Public Employee Unions Take Issue With Immigration Overhaul

Hundreds of thousands of immigrants 2 participate in march for Immigrants and Mexicans protesting against Illegal Immigration reform by U.S. Congress, Los Angeles, CA, May 1, 2006NPR, 5/29/2013

A bill that would overhaul the nation’s immigration laws is headed to the Senate floor early next month, where it will need all the friends it can get to pass. The measure would give the estimated 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally a path to citizenship, as well as tighten border protections. The bill has split organized labor. Unions with workers likely to benefit from the proposed changes, including the farm workers’ union, support the measure. But the public employee unions that represent immigration workers are expressing concern and, in some cases, vocally opposing the law.

The many proposed changes are causing some trepidation among the workers who are on the front lines of the issue — for instance, the agents at the border-crossing stations. Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents those agents, says U.S. Customs and Border Protection is already understaffed and underfunded. “The idea that it could be stretched thinner to cover any new responsibilities would really just be irresponsible for the country,” she says. Kelley says her union has not taken a formal position on the Senate measure, and hopes lawmakers will address her concerns.

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Mexico senate approves labor law revisions

Los Angeles Times, 11/13/2012

Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico’s senate on Tuesday approved a bill that would restrict workers’ rights to strike and relax hiring and firing rules for businesses.

The bill — passed after weeks of drama and debate — does not contain some of the original language that sought to reform the country’s notoriously sclerotic unions. Those measures were stripped out by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, whose presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, won this year after promoting himself as a serious reformer, a claim his opponents now doubt more than ever.

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Mexico workers protest labor overhaul bill

Los Angeles Times, 9/27/2012

Mexicans took to the streets Wednesday to protest a proposed law that is aimed at modernizing rules in the workplace and making Mexico’s powerful, corrupt unions more accountable.

Many workers say they fear that the so-called labor reform law would be abused to curtail the few protections they have. And the dinosaurian, notoriously undemocratic unions have long had a cozy, mutually beneficial relationship with Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, and they will resist change that could cut into their power.

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Brief History of Presidents vs. Union Leaders (in Spanish)

flag StarrGazrEl Universal, 10/13/09

Lázaro Cárdenas and Luis N. Morones; Adolfo López Mateos and Demetrio Vallejo; Carlos Salinas and La Quina, are just some of the players in union disputes.

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Editorial: Immigration and the Unions

The New York Times, 4/20/2009

The very idea that unions would endorse legalizing illegal immigrants, as the country’s two big labor federations did this month, strikes some as absurd. Americans have a hard enough time competing with cheap foreign labor. Why undercut them within our own borders? Especially with millions of citizens losing their jobs?

These questions deserve an answer since the bad economy will only strengthen the stiff winds of opposition that President Obama will have to fight if he is going to win the sweeping immigration overhaul he has promised. Legalization was already politically treacherous thanks to the tireless work of restrictionists who have spent years denouncing illegal immigrants as harmful to the country’s health. They have long compared the undocumented to invaders and parasites; it’s a very short distance from there to scabs.

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Obama talks of ‘upgrade’ to NAFTA with Mexico’s Calderón

obamacalderonDallas Morning News, 1/13/2009

Barack Obama told Mexican President Felipe Calderón on Monday that he wants to “upgrade” NAFTA, serving notice that he hasn’t abandoned a campaign pledge that irritated Mexico while appeasing union voters.

It was Obama’s first meeting with a foreign leader since his election, and he used it to pledge more help in Mexico’s violent drug war, and to keep pushing for an overhaul in U.S. immigration policy that would both secure the border and make it easier for workers to come north for jobs.

“We have such an extraordinary relationship between our two countries, one that my intention is to make stronger,” Obama said after the lunch meeting at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington. “The more secure Mexico is, the more secure the U.S. will be,” said Calderón, who met later with congressional leaders and meets today for a final session with President George W. Bush.

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