Victor Narro is Project Director for UCLA’s Labor Center, where his focus is to provide leadership programs for Los Angeles’s immigrant workers and internship opportunities for UCLA students. Victor is also a lecturer for the Chicano/a Studies Department, where he teaches classes that focus on immigrant workers and the labor movement. Over the past few years, Victor has worked with janitors, hotel workers, laundry workers, sanitation workers, port truckers, and more recently, car wash workers.

Victor was formerly the co-executive director of Sweatshop Watch. Prior to that, he was the workers’ rights project director for the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), where he was involved with organizing day laborers, domestic workers, garment workers, and gardeners. His work in multi-ethnic organizing led to the creation of the Multi-ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network (MIWON) in collaboration with KIWA, Garment Worker Center, and Pilipino Worker Center. Through Victor’s leadership, the day laborer project was able to grow into the National Day Laborer Organizing Network that today includes forty community-based worker centers from around the country. Before his tenure at CHIRLA, Victor worked in the Los Angeles regional office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

Perspectives: Worker Centers and the AFL-CIO National Convention

 will kick off its national convention in Los Angeles.  The last time it was held in L.A. was in 1999, when the AFL-CIO announced its historic declaration for a legalization program for all undocumented immigrants, increased workplace protection for immigrant workers and an end to employer sanction laws, which it supported back in 1986 as part of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).  The national convention this year in LA will also be a historic one.  With union density at around 12% (the private sector below 7%), the labor movement today is in a state of crisis.  As the recent deep recession, or depression as some economists have labeled it, has shown us, the labor movement is really the only safety net that we have in this country for the working class.

Immigration Reform Alone Won’t End Workplace Wrongs

Victor Narro

The national discussion on immigration reform is heating up now that the “Gang of Eight” plans to release its detailed version of the Senate bill. As with similar efforts in past years to pass comprehensive immigration reform through Congress, the draft legislation to start the process will undergo massive changes as legislators debate the issue, especially as it moves into the House of Representatives. Yet one point has received considerably less attention in the national debate, but will probably make the most difference to most immigrants and the economy– the enforcement of workplace rights.

I have been involved in the debate on immigration reform now for more than 25 years, since the passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA). I have seen the demographics of the country shift and have witnessed this debate in many stages and from many perspectives.