Workers have issued an ultimatum, giving company executives until 3 p.m. ET on Friday to present serious proposals—or the workers will walk. (Photo credit: David Bacon)
David Bacon is a writer, photojournalist and former union organizer. For twenty years, Bacon worked with unions in which immigrant workers made up a large percentage of the membership. Those include the United Farm Workers, the United Electrical Workers, the International Ladies' Garment Workers, the Molders Union and others. Bacon was chair of the board of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and helped organize the Labor Immigrant Organizers Network and the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health. He served on the board of the Media Alliance and belongs to the Northern California Media Workers Guild.
He is the author of Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (2008), Communities Without Borders (2006), and The Children of NAFTA: Labor Wars on the US/Mexico Border (2004). In his latest project, Living Under the Trees, sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities and California Rural Legal Assistance, Bacon is photographing and interviewing indigenous Mexican migrants working in California's fields. He is currently also documenting popular resistance to war and attacks on immigrant labor and civil rights. Visit his website.
A new report by US trade unions has strongly criticised the US government’s policies in Honduras.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre led a delegation of US labour leaders to meet with their Honduran counterparts. “What we witnessed was the intersection of our corporate-dominated trade policies with our broken immigration system.”
The editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle thinks a Silicon Valley Congressman should speak for the billionaires who have a voice and want an even louder one.
Perhaps thanks are due the board for making the choice between Mike Honda and Ro Khanna so clear. If we want a Congress member, it argues,who will be a voice for “those high-tech titans (Eric Schmidt of Google, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo among them)” we should follow its recommendation and dump Mike Honda, and install Ro Khanna.
Most media coverage of immigration today accepts as fact claims by growers that they can't get enough workers to harvest crops. Agribusiness wants a new guest worker program, and complaints of a labor shortage are their justification for it. But a little investigation of the actual unemployment rate in farm worker communities leads to a different picture.
There are always local variations in crops, and the number of workers needed to pick them. But the labor shortage picture is largely a fiction. I've spent over a decade traveling through California valleys and I have yet to see fruit rotting because of a lack of labor to pick it. I have seen some pretty miserable conditions for workers, though.
We need an immigration policy based on human, civil and labor rights, which looks at the reasons why people come to the US, and how we can end the criminalization of their status and work. While proposals from Congress and the administration have started the debate over the need for change in our immigration policy, they are not only too limited and ignore the global nature of migration, they actually will make the problem of criminalization much worse. We need a better alternative.
The day after Black Friday demonstrations of workers and supporters in front of hundreds of Walmart stores across the US., a fire killed 112 workers making clothes for Walmart at the Tazreen Fashions factory in Bangladesh. This was the most recent of several such factory fires, leading to the deaths of another 500 young women.
These fires are industrial homicides. They can be avoided. The fact that they're not is a consequence of a production system that places the profits of multinational clothing manufacturers and their contractors above the lives of people. The same profit-at-any-cost philosophy is leading to growing protest among workers who sell those garments in U.S. stores over their own wages and conditions, especially at Walmart.
One sign carried in almost every May Day march of the last few years says it all: “We are Workers, not Criminals!” Often it was held in the calloused hands of men and women who looked as though they'd just come from work in a factory, cleaning an office building, or picking grapes. The sign stated an obvious truth. Millions of people have come to the United States to work, not to break its laws. Some have come with visas, and others without them. But they are all contributors to the society they've found here.
This year, those marchers will be joined by the public workers we saw in the state capitol in Madison, whose message was the same – we all work, we all contribute to our communities, and we all have the right to a job, a union, and a decent life.