JUNE 29, 2007
While the U.S. Senate defeated the controversial immigration bill this week the nation’s largest federation of unions announced its unprecedented affiliation with a day laborer center that represents illegal immigrants.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), which represents about 10 million workers, first announced its nationwide plan to help illegal immigrant workers last year.
Billed as a historic partnership, the AFL-CIO promised to help the country’s estimated 12 million illegal immigrants come out of the shadows by helping day laborers learn about their workplace rights. The powerful and politically connected union giant vowed to serve as an advocate for illegal aliens by working with 140 day laborer centers in 80 cities and towns.
This week a northern California day laborer center became the first to capitalize on the plan and become officially affiliated with the AFL-CIO. The union has committed to help improve working conditions for the immigrant workers at Centro Legal de la Raza, an organization that claims to protect and advance the rights of immigrants and all low-income Latinos in the state’s Bay Area.
The AFL-CIO is stepping in because the day laborers, who solicit jobs by standing on corners or loitering in parking lots, have little recourse when an employer refuses to pay or expects them to work under dangerous conditions. An enthusiastic director of Centro Legal de la Raza predicts this could be the first step to fully unionizing illegal immigrants in the United States.
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