Posted on November 8, 2006

Immigration Reform Group: Rank and File Union Members Break With AFL-CIO Over Immigration

CCH, Inc., Nov. 7, 2006

While the AFL-CIO leadership remains committed to what an immigration reform group calls “a massive illegal alien amnesty program,” some rank and file workers and constituent locals are asserting that such a policy would do irreparable harm to American workers. The latest crack in the AFL-CIO’s support for amnesty is Pittsburgh Plumbers Local No. 27, which approved a resolution October 10 demanding that their union dues not be used for activities that support undocumented immigrants.

The resolution sharply criticizes the AFL-CIO leadership’s positions on dealing with illegal immigration. Local 27 “wants to express our outrage regarding the AFL-CIO’s stance on supporting millions of illegal aliens.” Illegal immigration is “harming our country,” and specifically the interests of working Americans, it states.

According to the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), the plumbers’ resolution follows a similar position taken last month by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, which represents some 750,000 building trades workers nationally. Earlier this summer, Teamster president James Hoffa expressed opposition to legalization for millions of illegal immigrants and called for an overhaul of U.S. immigration policies that he believes are detrimental to the interests of American workers.

“Americans from all walks of life at the grassroots are mobilizing to stop a massive illegal alien guest worker amnesty program being promoted by a disengaged elite,” said Dan Stein, president of FAIR. “Whether it is union members acting to protect their jobs and wages, or local governments acting to protect local residents from costs and crime associated with illegal immigration, Americans are making it clear that they will not sit quietly while their interests are being sold out.”

Both the AFL-CIO and its rival federation, Change to Win, have embraced immigrant workers’ rights. Recently the AFL-CIO announced a partnership with a national day laborers organization, which advocates for the rights of these workers, who are often undocumented immigrants.