Immigrant Rights Movement Building
Toward Massive May1 Workers Rally In US
Build Support Among Trade Unions and All Workers
by Steve Zeltzer
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT MASS workers mobilization since the 1930's in the United States which begun with over 2 million immigrant workers protests and rallies last month is now reaching out to organized labor for a massive workers protest on May 1, 2006. In meetings around the country, immigrant rights activists in alliance with some SEIU locals and other trade unionists are organizing for May 1 workers rallies and marches in the United States.
In Northern California, hundreds of organizers and trade union activists met on April 15 at Local SEIU87 to make plans for a mass protest not only on May 1 but on April 23 as well.
One of the key organizer from Los Angeles Javier Rodriguez referred to HR 4437 as a "Living Hell" for immigrants and the Kennedy-McCain bill as "purgatory." He also reported that some companies such as American Apparel which has thousands of workers in Los Angeles area has told organizers for the May 1 rally that they plan to close down their plants hire busses for all the workers and make t-shirts supporting the rally. The growing anger among the 12 million undocumented immigrant workers exploded when the US House of Representatives passed the Wisconsin Republican James F. Sensenbrenner's bill which criminalized these millions of workers as felons. Many of these workers have lived and worked in the United States for decades and their children have been born in the U.S.. What has also been left out of the whole debate by the capitalist press is that the very policies such as NAFTA and other "free trade agreements" have thrown millions of workers in Mexico off their land and out of their jobs. This brutal displacement pushed by US mulit-nationals has forced workers to come to the United States to survive. At the same time, the corporate bosses have used these immigrants to make billions of dollars. They have been arrested and deported for seeking unionization and the US government has been complicit in using the INS to intimidate and terrorize these workers.
There are also rumors that even Wal-Mart has jumped into the immigrant workers movement putting $5 million into Latino organizations that are organizing around immigration issues.
Javier Rodriguez also pointed out the reason for this. Under many of the immigration bills in Congress including the McCain-Kennedy bill, there would be a provision for a "guest worker" program that would potentially allow millions of workers to come to the United States for big corporations like Wal-Mart and others who are looking for cheap labor.
Unfortunately, sections of the trade union bureaucracy have also bought into this scheme of "guest worker" programs. The SEIU, UNITE-HERE and the UFWA have both supported the McCain-Kennedy bill which not only contains this union busting program but also provides more funding for border guards and the militarization of the border.
The AFL-CIO has opposed the "guest worker" charging that it "would result in the disappearance of thousands of permanent jobs and create an underclass of poorly paid foreign workers." At the same time the AFL-CIO continues to support the Kennedy's and other Democrats who have supported billions for more militarization of the borders and hundreds of billions for the wars in the middle east.
The call of the rallies in the bay area is for legalization for all workers in the US and an end to the attack on immigrant workers. At the same time, the key struggle for May Day 2006 is to unite the millions of immigrant workers with the millions of US workers facing union busting and wage cutting. In California, nearly 120,000 state workers are without a contract, four thousand San Francisco UNITE-HERE hotel workers are working without a contract and Oakland OEA teachers are working without a contract and are planning a one day strike on April 20.
What needs to be fought for is for all workers to join the May Day rallies in a struggle for full immigrant rights and against union busting. This mass working class action can change the agenda in the US and put on the front burner the fight for justice and equality for all workers. The use of bankruptcy laws to loot pension plans and destroy healthcare benefits, the use by the Democrats and Republicans of outsourcing for the benefit of international capital and the support by these politicians for the criminal wars against working people around the world now are coming together in a growing rebellion among working people in the US.
One of the most telling points that Javier Rodriguez made was that bosses were calling union officials in Los Angeles to find out what was happening with this growing strike movement and were finding out that this hierarchy had not idea what was going on at the base. This is the growing reality in the US, the increasing class hatred and anger of tens of millions of workers is beginning to bypass the obstacles thrown up by a pro-capitalist trade union officialdom which fears a mass workers movement that breaks through and opens up a new stage in the history of the US working class. This is now on the agenda.
These millions of immigrant workers need to be signed up as union members and if any are fired for participating in these actions all workers through direct action need to force these bosses to take the workers back or shutdown their operations.
Despite the flying of both US and Mexican flags by many of these immigrant workers, many of them know that their real struggle in fact is the fight against the bosses on both sides of the borders.
All Out For May Day 2006