Fox News, December 25, 2014
America’s struggling labor unions got a gift this year when President Obama announced his expansive executive actions on immigration: potentially thousands, if not millions, of new members.
Labor leaders reportedly are launching a new recruiting push by reaching out to those immigrants affected by Obama’s immigration announcement last month.
The actions are expected to offer work permits to some 4 million immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally and, until now, were reluctant to join unions for fear of retaliation. Union leaders now say the president’s actions give them new protections–and are keen on signing them up.
“I think we’ll see very positive changes” because of the action, Tom Balanoff, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1, told The Associated Press. “One of them, I hope, is that more workers will come forward and want to organize.”
Even before the president’s announcement–which infuriated congressional Republicans–labor unions were pushing the president to use executive powers to ease immigration policy.
On the day of Obama’s decision, the AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka said the move would “allow millions of people to live and work without fear, and afford them the status to assert their rights on the job.”
Indeed, the AFL-CIO now says it’s training organizers to recruit eligible workers.
The SEIU, whose more than 2 million members include janitors and maintenance workers, recently announced a website where immigrants can learn about the action. And the United Food and Commercial Workers and other unions are planning workshops and partnering with community groups and churches to reach out to immigrants.
Labor unions have struggled over the past decade to maintain their membership and political muscle. The ranks fell by more than 1.2 million between 2003 and 2013, when there were about 14.5 million members nationwide, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The percentage of workers that were union members fell from 12.9 percent to 11.3 percent during that same period.