Monday, December 18, 2006

Unions Must Support Immigrant Rights

Why Unions Must Support The Immigrant Rights Movement
By Karega Hart

"The essence of trade unionism is social uplift. The labor movement has been the haven for the dispossessed, the despised, the neglected, the downtrodden, the poor." - A. Philip Randolph

When A. Phillip Randolph spoke the above words during the 20th century, he was the leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was a union mainly of African American workers. Other unions refused to organize African American workers and accused African Americans of taking jobs, lowering wages and strikebreaking.

Today’s labor movement is faced with some of the same challenges, should we organize the dispossessed, the neglected, downtrodden and the poor? Should we organize undocumented immigrant workers? Should we continue to organize African American workers? The U.S. Labor Movement can not survive unless we are willing to organize undocumented immigrant workers, African American workers, Latinos and women throughout the South and the Southwest, everywhere. Union density will continue to decline, unless organizing is escalated and combined with a broad new social and economic justice vision and agenda.

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