President Obama’s executive amnesty for illegal immigrants could help unions with dwindling membership.
Labor unions were supportive of the president’s move. “I think we’ll see very positive changes,” Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 1, told the Associated Press on Friday. “One of them, I hope, is that more workers will come forward and want to organize.”
Many national labor unions are working hard to do just that. The SEIU recently announced a website where immigrants can learn about the executive action. The AFL-CIO says it is training organizers to recruit eligible workers. The United Food and Commercial Workers are planning workshops to reach out to immigrants.
“The unions would get the benefit in two ways,”Washington Examiner columnist Byron York explained on Fox News Friday. “If a newly legalized immigrant would join unions, of course, they’d be paying dues. And, even though they can’t vote – they’re not citizens – they can provide some of the muscle, the political muscles that unions flex, during campaigns. They can knock on doors, work in phone banks, do all sorts of things that unions do in every election cycle.”
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He added, “The president, I think, was looking for a way to strengthen union support, because, you have to remember, unions in the private sector have been just going downhill for decades and decades. At the moment 6.7 percent of the private sector workforce is unionized, an all-time low.”
Labor unions have been long time advocates for immigration reform, far before the president granted amnesty.
Back in June, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and fellow union activist Eliseo Medina declared in a statement, “We also hope that as President Obama moves forward with administrative action, he will carefully and humanely address the urgent crisis of unaccompanied immigrant minors. This issue is not to be taken lightly or politicized.”
In November, when the executive action was made, Henry said, “For millions of immigrant families, President Obama’s administrative action is life-changing. With this action, the president has taken our country forward in addressing what needs to be fixed about our broken immigration system.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also stated, “On behalf of America’s workers, we applaud the Administration’s willingness to act.”
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