Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 | 4:30 p.m.
National and local union workers rallied today in Las Vegas, promising to throw the weight of organized labor behind a push for U.S. immigration reform.
“(Immigration reform) is a national priority for the labor movement,” Maria Elena Durazo, secretary-treasurer of Los Angeles County Labor Federation, told union members gathered Monday at the Cashman Center. “And today is the second city in the launch of 14 cities — from Raleigh, N.C., to Denver, Colo., Anaheim, Calif., to New York City, Miami. We are going on and on, and we are going on the road to show that labor supports immigrants in this country.”
Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and Bartenders Beverage and Dispensers Union Local 165, along with representatives of Unite Here, the Culinary Workers parent union, AFL-CIO, Teamsters union, Service Employees International Union, Laborer’s International Union of North America and others were in attendance at the rally.
“Our mission is immigration reform, which includes a pathway to citizenship,” said Ron Herrera, of the Teamsters. “Immigrant workers are the most exploited. They are intimidated and harassed. They are lied to about their rights, and have their pay withheld and stolen sometimes. They are continually threatened by employers who hold them hostage because of their status.”
Some in the audience held signs reading “Citizenship, because no person is 2nd Class” and “I work hard and pay taxes.”
Pre-written postcards were distributed at the event for union members to sign and mail to Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller. The cards state the signatory’s support for comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for those residing in the country without a legal status, a “data-driven system” for using immigrant labor when local workers are insufficient, “rational” operational control of the border, “fair and efficient” worker authorization and labor enforcement programs and “the improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs.”
Danny Thompson, executive secretary-treasurer for the Nevada AFL-CIO, said the union campaign for immigration reform would mimic the union’s campaigns supporting politicians.
“When one worker is exploited, it affects all of us. This is the right thing to do, and this is the right time to do it,” Thomspson said. “We’re going to do phone calling. We’re going to hold events. We’re going to knock on doors. We’re going to do rallies.”