Ariz. immigration law's impact on labor

A sign reading 'Arizona, The Grand Canyon State Welcomes You' along the state's New Mexico border on Interstate 10

by Jeff Tyler

Anyone working in the U.S. needs at least a visa to do so legally. But there's no such requirement for joining a union.

"For unions to organize workers, they can't ask to see their green card first and then have them sign a union card second. They seek to organize everyone in a workplace, whatever their immigration status," says Harley Shaiken, a professor at U.C. Berkeley specializing in labor issues. "Many of these industries that have a lot of immigrant workers are vital for the growth of unions."

Labor leaders voice other motivations.

Ana Avendano with the AFL-CIO says the new law could have a chilling effect on worker complaints.

"Our employment laws rely on workers to file complaints with the government to expose dangerous workplaces, non-payment of wages, discrimination, and other violations of law," says Avendano.

She says the Arizona law could be used to bust unions. When faced with a picket line, Avendano says, employers could just call the sheriff and have their problems deported.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.
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It is interesting that some union officials are in favor of importing low wage labor, which ultimately can only hurt their members.

Even union leaders should understand the basic rule of supply and demand, as it applies to labor.

It seems that the union leaders are more interested in the welfare of the union as an organization, than of their members. The same applies to our political leaders, who are more concerned about the survival of their parties, that the future of the American people.

Eric Hoffer had one insightful quote: "Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket."
He must have been thinking of unions and our federal government.

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