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    Immigration

February 16, 2017

UFCW Responds to “A Day Without Immigrants” Protests

On Feb. 16, UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued a statement in response to the thousands of employees and employers across the country who stood together during “A Day Without Immigrants” to call attention to the vital role immigrants play in every community.

“Immigrants make incredible contributions to our lives, communities, and country each day. Today, we are asking Americans to honor that contribution and pay attention to what is at stake.

“From the beginning of this nation, immigrant workers from all over the world have come to this country to work hard and build a better life. Yet, many workers, and many UFCW members continue to suffer from the effects of our broken immigration system.

“Our union family has seen firsthand the damage that irresponsible employers can cause through exploitative labor practices that hurt immigrants, and drive down wages, benefits and working conditions for all workers. It is time for Congressional leaders to finally see and hear the calls for change and put forth common-sense immigration reform that will end this crisis.”

March 19, 2015

UFCW Launches Groundbreaking Immigration Program in Omaha

DAPAOMAHA, NE—Hundreds of UFCW members and staff from across the United States came together over the last two days in Omaha, Nebraska, at a groundbreaking training session with meatpacking and food processing workers in preparation for President Obama’s executive action on immigration, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).

UFCW International President Marc Perrone called the UFCW’s work on immigration “the most important thing we will do over the next decade.” “Our union movement will be stronger if we truly empower our immigrant members with programs like this,” he said.

The program is unlike anything in the labor movement and is the brainchild of UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Esther López. “We are uniquely positioned to transform the lives of our members and their families with this work,” she said. “We need to lean in. Tens of thousands of families are counting on us and by working together, we will build a stronger UFCW in the process.”

Participants took part in four standing room only modules focused on ensuring UFCW members are first in line when the application process for DAPA officially opens.

The UFCW’s DAPA program, credited as a model nationally, includes three phases:

  • The first, which includes this week’s workshops, is outreach and education. UFCW members and staff will leave Omaha with a better understanding of DAPA and take that knowledge back to their home areas.
  • The second phase, which will take place at the local union level in the coming weeks and months, is assisting members in determining eligibility and the gathering and review of key documents.
  • The final phase is helping eligible members prepare and submit their application.

“The labor movement and the immigration movement are connected,” said Ellen Vera of UFCW Local 75 in Ohio. “When we stand together, we can achieve anything. It is important we take up this work so we can continue to better our communities.”

Participants received detailed immigration guides to bring back to their locals. This coincided with the launch of the UFCW’s DAPA online toolkit—http://immigration.ufcw.org.

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

November 19, 2014

Rep. Gutierrez Joins Farm Workers Behind the Thanksgiving Meal to Hold Holiday Feast in Front of White House

White House Event Executive ActionWashington, DC—Today, on the cusp of one of America’s most celebrated holidays, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) alongside immigrant farm, food and commercial workers from across the country gathered in front of the White House to remind Americans of the people behind the Thanksgiving meal, and express their support for President Obama taking the most inclusive executive action possible.  The event shined a special spotlight on members of United Farm Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers who presented an array of Thanksgiving foods harvested and processed by immigrant workers, including a turkey, potatoes, pumpkin, and other foods commonly found on America’s Thanksgiving tables.

Said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), “The President is going to act boldly, broadly and soon and across the country the bounty and blessings of Thanksgiving will be joyous.  The President’s actions will mean that millions of American families will not fear deportation and destruction and so many people contributing to our economy, including those who pick, pack and move the food to our tables, will be able to continue helping us all live better.”

In addition to the Thanksgiving table, farm workers delivered letters from across the country, explaining why administrative relief is so important to their families and communities.  Many of the letters included invitations to the President to share a Thanksgiving meal with farm workers in their homes.  (View the original letters in Spanish and their English translations).  One of the letters written by Jaime Sanchez, a fourth year college student and son of farm workers, appeared as an op-ed in his student paper at the University of Chicago–the President’s former place of work.  

“The protracted political debates and the partial solutions offered by House Republicans that ignore the inconvenient truth that America’s food will continue to come to our tables through the toil and exploitation of undocumented farm workers who do the work that no one else is doing.  Instead of a seat at our nation’s table, farm workers live in the shadows where they are subjected to inhumane working conditions, rampant sexual harassment, wage theft and the threat of deportation if they dare to stand up for their humanity,” said Arturo Rodriguez, President of  United Farm Workers (UFW). “That’s why we are here at the White House today, to share with America that we support the President taking the most inclusive executive action possible.  On this holiday of giving thanks, it’s time to give thanks to our Thanksgiving workers by simply extending to them meaningful action that says, ‘If you harvest our food, you’re welcome at the table.’”

Added Esther Lopez, International Vice President and Director of Civil Rights and the Community Action Department at United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, “In the face of cowardly inaction by the House Republican leadership, today we ask President Obama to do what he should have done long ago – use his clearly defined legal authority to provide relief to immigrant workers and their families. We ask the President to put in place a framework that ensures immigrant workers are treated with dignity and respect on the job.”

Their sentiments were bolstered by a chorus of farm and food workers from across the country.

Said Maria G. Lozano Ramirez, a grape harvester from Benson City, WA, “Wine is important to Thanksgiving dinner, but people drink it without thinking about how much work it takes to make that one bottle of wine. How many undocumented farm workers did it take to make it taste so good? We work long hours but without much acknowledgement.”

Pumpkin grower Maria Martha Acevedo Cardenas from Sunnyside, WA recalled the sacrifices behind every Thanksgiving meal, saying, “I’m not asking for pity, but I am asking for what’s fair. Farm workers need immigration reform.  They’re able to eat the best produce, while we are unable to afford the same fruits and vegetables we picked. One day, I would like to be able to buy my own Thanksgiving turkey.”

Added her U.S. citizen daughter, Eustalia (Toy) A. Acevedo, who picks apples in Seattle, WA, “When the average American eats that apple pie or a dish with apples on Thanksgiving, they need to realize without farm workers picking their fruits or vegetables there wouldn’t be a Thanksgiving meal.”

San Juanita Marquez, a poultry processing plant worker from Lumber Bridge, NC, explained the perils of life as an undocumented worker: “If immigration comes to the plant or my house, I could be separated from my children. My youngest children are American citizens, and because I have no family here, they would be left alone and be sent to foster care if I was deported. It would be too dangerous to take them back to Guerrero where children and the elderly are gunned down in gang violence. I ask Obama to stop the deportations – let us work and let us keep our children safe.”

Maria Arteaga, harvests potatoes in Parma, ID.  Several years ago she and her husband were stopped and subsequently deported for “looking suspicious” while on a road trip to Los Angeles.  At the time her small children, including her daughter Areli, then 5, had stayed home with a relative while they were away. “Once I was deported, all I could think about was my children. I had to get back to them. I did what any mother would have done.  I made the sacrifice and returned to the U.S. illegally.”

Added her daughter, Areli, who often helps with corn harvesting when home from college: “I want people, who don’t believe we need immigration reform to think about something before they bite into their corn on the cob: some people, unlike them, can’t be sitting at the table enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with their family because they can’t travel out of the country to see them or because their family has been deported.”

Said Inocencio Bernal Pedroza, who picks celery in Madera, CA: “Farm workers contribute to the U.S. economy, but many of them are undocumented and are not treated equally or acknowledged for their work.  They provide food for American families. Americans should try to have to have their Thanksgiving meal without undocumented farm workers toiling in the fields. There would be no dinner! There’s produce in the supermarkets because farm working hands put it there.”

Alberto Bermejo, who picks peaches in Sanger, CA, said, “If we’re not in the fields picking the peaches, then they won’t be served on Thanksgiving. A little appreciation for what we do would go a long way.”

Juan and Maria Pacheco, achieved American citizenship after years of working at a turkey processing plant in Mifflintown, PA.  Today they called for executive action on behalf of their undocumented coworkers.  Said Juan, “Families all across the country are going to be eating our turkeys next week, but they don’t know the stories behind their Thanksgiving dinner. My wife and I worked in the Empire Kosher turkey plant for fifteen years before we finally earned American citizenship. We have worked hard to earn our American Dream. This Thanksgiving, President Obama has the chance to give that same opportunity to other hardworking families like ours.”

Additional information on today’s event, including the farm worker letters, bios, social media tools and archived footage is available here.

October 22, 2014

The Midwest Pushes Ahead on Immigration Reform

From The Chicago Sun-Times:

Despite inaction on immigration reform in Washington, local municipal and civic leaders are getting things done. Across the country, state houses, city halls and community coalitions are addressing immigration-related policies on their own, creating new ways to strengthen their communities and grow their economies.

Immigrants are a growing demographic in local communities, making immigrant integration a decidedly local concern. The federal gridlock only helps inspire local leaders to tackle what others have postponed addressing.

What’s new and novel today is the shift from enforcement-heavy local policy — such as Arizona’s draconian Senate Bill 1070 in 2010, which criminalized the failure to carry immigraiton documents and gave police authority to detain solely based on suspicion of immigration status — to a series of immigrant-friendly local policies. What’s also striking is the growing number of these local initiatives found in the Midwest, a region with a reputation for being demographically homogenous and generally resistant to change.

Pro-immigration efforts come as no surprise in a place like Chicago, with its rich history of immigration and a mayor who aims to make the Windy City “the most immigrant-friendly city in the nation.” In 2011, he established an Office of New Americans. But city-sponsored programs dedicated to immigrant integration are decidedly more pioneering in places like Indiana, where welcoming initiatives stand in sharp contrast with the state’s 2011 passage of SB590, similar to Arizona’s SB1070.

The Welcoming Center of Indianapolis promotes a successful volunteer network of Natural Helpers, established immigrants who assist new immigrants in transitioning to life in Indianapolis. And Fort Wayne’s Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration offers a “CITYzenship” program that aims to build city officials’ working relationship with immigrant communities.

Such efforts are also trailblazing in Iowa, a state infamous for the 2006 and 2008 federal immigration raids in meatpacking plants in Marshalltown and Postville. But in fact Iowa’s community colleges have expanded their English as a Second Language programs and city leaders have traveled to Mexico to learn about the origins of their largest immigrant community. The Iowa Center for Immigrant Leadership and Integration offers tailored consulting to assist local communities and businesses in better engaging with immigrants and refugees.

Midwestern hospitality is reflected in large state-level immigrant initiatives in Illinois and Michigan and in smaller communities like Dodge City, Kansas — with a population just over 27,000 as of the 2010 Census — as an affiliate of Welcoming America’s Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative. Innovative regional efforts like the Global Great Lakes Network connect like-minded inter-state leaders and organizations in sharing best practices, maximizing impact and resources.

The Midwest’s embrace of its immigrant population is rooted in pragmatism. Savvy civic leaders know that immigration is increasingly a demographic lifeline for the Heartland: Census data show that over the last decade, the metro areas of the 12-state region have shed a collective 1.4 million native-born residents. At the same time, the region’s immigrant population rose 27 percent. Immigration now accounts for 38.4 percent of all metro area growth in the Midwest, with new immigrants sustaining populations, tax bases, and federal political representation, and, perhaps most critically, replacing aging native-born workers in regional labor forces. From Davenport to Duluth, South Bend to Sheboygan, many Midwestern communities are growing almost exclusively because immigrant families are choosing to call them home.

To keep things in perspective, the Midwest is still home to its fair share of restrictive policies. There is more work to be done. But the region’s level of action and commitment to immigrant integration represent a remarkable shift in rhetoric from previous years. Today, the Midwest is home to a significant number of local initiatives, working in concert with efforts in other regions: California’s governor just signed new immigration reform legislation. Atlanta’s mayor recently announced the creation of an office of multicultural affairs. Nashville just launched an Office of New Americans. And many have looked to New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs as a blueprint for best practices.

Immigration is, at its core, a local phenomenon, playing out where people actually live and work — and as such, local initiatives will continue to play a critical role in long-term immigration policy, either working in concert with a future federal reform or continuing to fill the void caused by a prolonged congressional stalemate.

Either way, the Midwestern momentum around the issue is unprecedented and notable, offering an example for D.C. policymakers as to what is possible when pragmatism prevails over partisan politics, and policy focuses on facilitating connections between people and the places they live.

Juliana Kerr is director of the Immigration Initiative for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Paul McDaniel is the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Fellow for the American Immigration Council.

September 23, 2014

National Voter Registration Day

Did you know that in 2008, six million Americans didn’t vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register?

We can’t let that happen again – the 2014 election is just too important to working families. This election will determine whether the Senate and countless state and local governments fight to raise the minimum wage and expand workers’ rights or to bust unions, slash budgets, and cut taxes on the rich. We need to make sure that every UFCW household has its voice heard this year.

Can we count on you? Then register today. 

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and our allies at Rock the Vote have created a website with all the information you need to make sure you’re registered.

Forms, key dates, and other voting information are all included.

Make your voice heard. Get registered today.

August 23, 2014

UCAN Workshop Helps UFCW Members on Path to Citizenship

UFCW Immigration ReformToday UFCW Local 431 Cargill workers attended a UFCW Union Citizenship Action Network (UCAN) workshop in Beardstown, Ill. The workshop focused on legal services, the process to become a citizen, and other immigration and citizenship issues. Nearly 75 people attended the workshop and 22 people received assistance filling out their naturalization applications. This will start them on the path to becoming U.S. citizens.

In the face of inaction on comprehensive immigration reform by Congress, the UFCW launched the UCAN program to be a resource for workers looking to apply for citizenship. UCAN helps provide the proper documents, legal counsel, and other assistance necessary to get the process started. The program also positions the UFCW to be able to help many more workers once comprehensive immigration reform becomes law.

In Beardstown, the UFCW partnered with the National Partnership for New Americans, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Immigrant Project, and the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa. African language translators and interpreters were made available to meet the needs of workers.

Upcoming UCAN workshops will be held in West Liberty, and Waterloo, Iowa, respectively.

July 25, 2014

Hansen: President Obama Should Go Big on Immigration Reform

UFCW Immigration ReformOn Monday, President Obama went big by signing a loophole-free executive order to protect employees of federal contractors and the federal government from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. In the face of inaction by Congress, he demonstrated the will and authority to use his executive powers to help solve our nation’s challenges. He should tackle immigration with equal fervor.

Just as in the case of employment discrimination, the Senate has passed bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform legislation but the House has refused to act. It is long past time to stop the deportation of those who would be eligible for citizenship under the Senate bill. President Obama now needs to go big on immigration so aspiring Americans can live and work without fear.

The unfolding humanitarian crisis on the border further highlights the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system and create a clear and fair path to citizenship. Yet some Congressional Republicans are using the plight of immigrant families to call for even stricter enforcement policies. It’s shameful.

To be clear—the two issues are separate. The influx of young people across the border is the result of a 2008 law that gave immigrant children from certain countries the opportunity to seek asylum before being deported. Congress should provide the Obama Administration the necessary resources to protect these children and ensure they receive due process. But that is not a substitute for dealing with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who were here long before anyone was talking about unaccompanied minors.

UFCW members have fought long and hard for immigration reform. We have lobbied our members of Congress, spoken out at town hall meetings, signed petitions and post cards, attended rallies, and participated in civil disobedience. We have seen the wreckage of our broken immigration system firsthand—from the raided meatpacking plant to the worker who lives in fear of deportation to the husband kept apart from his wife and children.

The UFCW is part of a national movement that has led the way in changing the narrative. At this point in time, an overwhelming majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform, including most Republicans. A broad coalition of leaders and groups are now calling for fair, just, and humane immigration reform.

Yet it is clear that opponents are going to try every excuse in the book—including the current situation on the border— to undermine, delay, or derail immigration reform. We cannot let them. It has been over a year since the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform and families are still being torn apart. Over a year has passed and aspiring Americans are still living in the shadows. Over a year has passed and immigrant workers are still vulnerable to exploitation. Enough is enough. The men and women being harmed by our broken immigration system are Americans in every way but on paper. It is time for President Obama to take bold and decisive action on their behalf.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-hansen/president-obama-should-go_b_5622095.html

July 1, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on One-Year Anniversary of Senate Passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform

UFCW Immigration ReformWASHINGTON, D.C. Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement regarding the one-year anniversary of Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

“One year ago last week, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation that created a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans and strengthened protections for immigrant workers. The bill, which also included a ‘border surge’ provision that we strongly opposed, was an exercise in compromise. I said at the time that we could not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Senate passage was supposed to kick off the process of fixing our broken immigration system.

“Instead, one year later, it remains the only meaningful step taken toward reform. The inaction of House Republicans on this issue—save for a precious few—is a national embarrassment. The only pieces of legislation that have moved through committee might as well have been drafted at a Tea Party convention. No bills have gone to the House floor. The American people, including most Republicans, support comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, Speaker John Boehner has chosen to put the demands of an extreme minority over the wisdom and compassion of the sensible majority.

“The unfolding humanitarian crisis on the border further highlights the urgent need to fix our broken immigration system and create a clear and fair path to citizenship. Yet some Congressional Republicans are using the plight of immigrant families to call for even stricter enforcement policies. It’s shameful.

“I was pleased that yesterday the President announced his intention to take executive action on immigration. He should move boldly and decisively to stop the deportation of those who would qualify for citizenship under comprehensive immigration reform.

“A year has passed and families are still being torn apart. A year has passed and aspiring Americans are still living in the shadows. A year has passed and immigrant workers are still vulnerable to exploitation. We cannot afford to wait any longer. It is time for our leaders to act—or be replaced by those who will.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.

April 15, 2014

UFCW Releases 2013 Congressional Scorecard

The UFCW has released a scorecard for the first session of the 113th Congress. Members of both the House and Senate were graded on a series of bills that impacted workers and their families.

The House of Representatives scorecard included measures to gut workers’ rights, end the government shutdown, and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

The Senate scorecard included votes on comprehensive immigration reform, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and the confirmation of both Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and three pro-worker nominees to the National Labor Relations Board.

The UFCW is committed to holding elected officials accountable for their actions.

To see how members of Congress voted, click here.

February 3, 2014

UFCW President Hansen Statement on House GOP Immigration Principles

UFCW Immigration ReformWASHINGTON, D.C. —Joe Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the principles for immigration reform issued by House Republicans.

“More than one year after President Obama laid out his plan for comprehensive immigration reform and seven months after the Senate passed legislation on a bipartisan basis, House Republicans have put forward their principles for reform. I hope this step, however belated, will move the immigration debate forward. But words alone are not enough. UFCW members, immigrant communities, and the majority of Americans are demanding action. That means passing a bill like H.R. 15 and working with the Senate to get a final product to President Obama’s desk. The principles issued by House Republicans are short on details and what is included looks like more of the same. For instance, the idea of additional guest workers and legalization based on enforcement triggers are complete nonstarters. It is long past time for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans and strong protections for immigrant workers. The UFCW calls on House Republicans to stop delaying and bring legislation up for a vote.”

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The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) represents more than 1.3 million workers, primarily in the retail and meatpacking, food processing and poultry industries. The UFCW protects the rights of workers and strengthens America’s middle class by fighting for health care reform, living wages, retirement security, safe working conditions and the right to unionize so that working men and women and their families can realize the American Dream. For more information about the UFCW’s effort to protect workers’ rights and strengthen America’s middle class, visit www.ufcw.org, or join our online community at www.facebook.com/UFCWinternational and www.twitter.com/ufcw.