AFL-CIO To Aid Immigrant Workers
Bart Jones, Newsday, August 10, 2006
In what organizers billed as a “watershed partnership,” the AFL-CIO and a network of immigrant day laborers announced yesterday the formation of an alliance to fight for workers’ rights and support day laborer hiring centers around the country, including on Long Island and in New York City.
Speaking at a news conference in Chicago, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney said his 9-million-member union will help fight for immigration reform, workplace safety involving day laborers and other workers, and protection against employers who try to cheat workers out of wages or physically abuse them.
The number of hiring centers nationwide has jumped from four a decade ago to more than 140 today including ones in Freeport, Glen Cove, Huntington and Queens. Many, but not all, of the workers at the sites are undocumented immigrants.
Nadia Marin-Molina of the Workplace Project called the alliance a major breakthrough. “We think it is really important to see unions and worker centers uniting for a common cause,” she said. “Sometimes there have been divisions between unions and immigrants.”
Not everyone cheered the new agreement, however. Steven Camarota of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think tank that favors stricter limits on immigration, said, “This is a continuation of the AFL-CIO’s general position on illegal immigration, generally to oppose enforcement and to do everything possible to make life better and easier for those here illegally.”