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Labor unions begin to embrace immigrant support

Thousands of union members from around the state gather at the State Capitol to protest Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's proposed budget cuts April 13, 2011 in Lansing, Mich.

Jeremy Hobson: Well hundreds of thousands of people who are not going to Omaha this weekend will hit the streets for International Worker's Day. Also known as May Day. Many demonstrators will be representing unions and immigrant-rights groups.

As Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports, the relationship between those two groups hasn't always been friendly.


Jeff Tyler: Demonstrations are scheduled across the country on Sunday to highlight the record number of deportations under the Obama Administration. In the past, labor unions might have cheered. Historically, they feared that immigrants would compete for union jobs. But in the last two decades, that's changed. Latinos have risen to leadership positions in many unions.

Mike Garcia is president of SEIU United Service Workers West.

Mike Garcia: We were able to move labor in the direction of organizing undocumented and immigrant workers. Understanding that we're not going to revive our labor movement unless we have a plan to organize these workers.

Union membership typically does not require a green card.

Garcia: Whether they're documented or you're here legally, we don't draw a distinction in the labor movement.

In return, unions provide undocumented workers with wage and safety protections. And labor lobbyists have been pushing hard for immigration reform in Washington. The divisions in Congress over the issue could bring the two sides even closer on Sunday, as they bond over their shared political frustrations.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

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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Any organization which openly solicits members from groups of lawbreakers is undermining the stability of the jurisdiction they function in. If Unions are doing this openly they should have their charters to operate revoked, the principals involved should be charged with the appropriate criminal activity and the organization should not be allowed to function in any capacity until their illegal activities cease.

What a joke and a LIE.

The SEIU bussed in illegal alien union members to rally at DC.

Many did not even speak English.

The SEIU web site had video clips on illegal aliens advocating for another amnesty -in Spanish.

Guess it doesnt matter if your legal workers have work these days? You know the people who have the ability to vote in elections that elect our law makers? Because to most people if you arent employing your own citizens; that means you are taking care of them in the form of food stamps; unemployment benefits unless they are independent contract workers, medicare, etc. That makes no sense by the way.

It also makes no sense to allow unlimited amounts of labour in when the more people; mean less wages unless there is a high demand for these workers.

This is a desperate survival attempt by the Unions, and I suggest they come up with a better plan because illegals don't vote

Interesting to see how unions are adding illegals to their chorus just to make their voice heard in Congress or by the lawmakers. But one thing they forget is illegal means illegal. Not sure what part of the word "illegal" does this union leaders don't understand. This is kind of an indirect support to illegal immigration.

Nice to know the unions are using their member's dues to support illegals. How unethical is that? Supporting law breakers?

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