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Documented Or Undocumented, Immigrants Are Human Beings And Deserve Care And Respect

Protestors at an anti-Trump rally (FLIKR CC Alisdare Hickson)

by Carol Backus and Eva Castillo Turgeon

Last Sunday’s editorial headline about police practices when encountering undocumented immigrants is deeply offensive to people of faith and good will across the Granite State. While we agree with the editor’s assertion, “State and local police should not be stopping people based on skin color or foreign accent,” we are troubled by language elsewhere in the editorial that dehumanizes immigrants.

Human beings are not fish or game to be caught and released. We are not domestic animals to be penned in barns. Actions, not people, can be illegal. To label immigrants as illegal is an attempt to dehumanize them. When people are dehumanized, they are easily targeted as undeserving of respect and basic human rights. Labeling people negatively may be unintentional, but it is nonetheless harmful.

People who are unable to produce citizenship papers are human beings and deserve the same care and respect as members of the Union Leader editorial board and staff or the authors of this op-ed.

A person may be in New Hampshire without documents for a variety of reasons: they may have overstayed a tourist visa; they may have jumped off a merchant ship; they may have crossed a border without stopping at a check point; they may be a victim of human trafficking; their abusive spouse may have taken their documents; they may have an expired student visa; or for any number of other reasons. Unless we know a person’s story, we don’t know why they are here without documents. When we know their story, we can decide whether they have committed an illegal act, and if so, whether it was justified.

The process for sorting out these situations must be humane. A humane attitude on the part of police and the larger community will lead to resolution of policies affecting the millions of people who live in the U.S. without documents. We at the Granite State Organizing Project, a New Hampshire faith-based community organization, laud the efforts of state and local police departments to clarify their roles regarding immigrants.

As a matter of public safety, it is crucial for everyone in our communities to feel safe reporting a crime, calling for help on the roadside, escaping from an abusive spouse, or cooperating with the police on community projects. As so many of our immigrant neighbors come from mixed status families (e.g. a parent without documents, children who are citizens, etc.) it is very important for everyone to know that casual contact with local police will not result in the catastrophic family separations we have been reading about in the news.

Decisions of local police departments not to act as enforcement agents on immigration issues that do not involve serious misdemeanors or felonies seems to us reasonable and a wise use of resources. We hope that the state police will also develop wise and humane policies.

Wise policies will also recognize that immigration has always strengthened our country. Wise policies will be good for our state’s economy as we seek to find workers that our employers tell us are needed to fill job vacancies.

Except for a handful of Native Americans, we are all descendants of immigrants. First came the European colonists who were undocumented from the perspective of the people already living here. After its establishment as a colony of Great Britain and later as a state, New Hampshire benefitted from waves of immigration as French-speaking, Irish, Italian, Greek and other immigrants came to live here. Each wave experienced its share of conflict as those longer settled resented the newcomers. With time New Hampshire gained the gift of diversity that resulted from this immigration.

Now we find ourselves with undocumented people living in our midst. Many of them have been here for years and even decades, living as quietly as they can, trying to keep their families together. Our challenge is not how to deport them, but how to offer a path for their legal integration into the social, economic, and civic fabric of our state. If we undertake this, New Hampshire and its citizens will not be diminished, but will grow stronger.

 

Carol is President of the Executive Committee of the Granite State Organizing Project and Eva is First Vice President.

Vigil at ICE Office Calls for End to Deportations

30 members of faith communities pray #LetThemStay at ICE office in Manchester, NH on Sept 5th. Image from Arnie Alpert Twitter.

Interfaith advocates celebrate victory for Indonesian immigrants, but say more is needed.

Vigil Planned for October 3, at 8:30 am

Buoyed by a federal court decision putting a halt to the imminent deportation of about 60 Indonesian immigrants, members of area religious congregations will return to the Norris Cotton Federal Building on Tuesday October 3 to pray for a halt to all deportations. The vigil comes on the heels of a victory for the interfaith coalition, after an order issued on September 26 by Judge Patti Saris of the United States District Court in Boston halted plans to deport 11 Indonesians. The decision applies not only to the named plaintiffs, but to approximately 50 other Indonesian immigrants.

“We are called to continue our prayers for a halt to the deportation machine, which is tearing apart families, congregations, and communities,” said the Rev. Tim Roser, Associate to the Bishop, New England Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

The interfaith prayer vigils began on June 6, coinciding with scheduled appointments that dozens of immigrants had with officials of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency responsible for immigrant detention and deportation. Such appointments are typically held on the second Tuesday of each month.

The October 3 vigil will be led by Rev. Sarah Rockwell of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church  and Father Joseph Gurdak, ofm, Cap. of St. Anne- St. Augustin Parish.

Prior to the Trump administration, these appointments took place on a more or less annual basis for immigrants who had “orders of supervision” from ICE.  Since then, immigrants have been ordered to return to ICE with greater frequency. Starting on August 1, many of the immigrants were told to return with plane tickets to their countries of origin or risk getting jailed and forcibly deported. Since then, prayer vigils have also been held outside the federal building on each day the faith-based activists knew of anyone needing to report to ICE.

The October 3 vigil will be the 11th to take place since June. The vigils have attracted anywhere from a couple dozen to a few hundred prayerful protesters. Participants have included local and regional leaders from a variety of faith traditions. The vigils are coordinated by the Granite State Organizing Project, American Friends Service Committee, and Untied Valley Interfaith Project.

The vigil will begin at 8:30 AM with prayers, songs, and a “Jericho Walk” around the building.  “According to the Hebrew Bible, it was prayer that brought down the walls of Jericho,” said Father Joseph Gurdak, pastor at Saint Anne-Saint Augustin Parish in Manchester. “Today, we are praying for the walls of injustice, intolerance, xenophobia, and racism to come crumbling down.”

The Indonesians fled from religious persecution about twenty years ago, explained the Rev. Sandra Pontoh of Indonesian Community Support in Dover. Since then, they have been living, working, and raising families in the Dover-Rochester area. “We are hopeful that the courts will put a total halt to the deportations, which are tearing our community apart,” she said.

Others swept up in the deportation surge include people from Brazil, South Sudan, El Salvador, and other countries where violence and extreme poverty have forced people to leave their homes and come to the United States to try to make a better life for themselves and their families.

“Rescinding DACA Is Inhumane,” Quakers Vow To Keep Fighting For Immigrant Rights

30 members of faith communities pray #LetThemStay at ICE office in Manchester, NH on Sept 5th. Image from Arnie Alpert Twitter.

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE —The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – a Quaker organization that has worked for immigrant and refugee rights for almost 100 years – condemned today’s decision by the Trump administration to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a program that has provided temporary deportation relief to almost 800,000 people who came to the U.S. as children, including nearly 1,000 in New Hampshire.

“The decision to rescind DACA is an inhumane attack on young people, their families, and our communities,” said Maggie Fogarty, co-director of the organization’s New Hampshire Program. “This decision puts thousands of young people at risk of deportation, and a six-month delay does nothing to mitigate that. We support DACA because we strongly believe that no one should be deported.”

Fogarty received the news while standing outside the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement office in Manchester, where dozens of immigrants were given deportation orders today.  “We will continue to support individuals and families threatened with deportation,” she said.

Since the DACA program was announced by executive order in 2012, AFSC has been involved in helping people sign up for the program, providing know-your-rights information,  advocating for DACA expansion (which was effectively blocked by the Supreme Court in 2016), and mobilizing constituents to contact their congress people in support of the program.

“DACA has created opportunities for young immigrants to work, pursue educational opportunities, and support themselves and their families,” said Arnie Alpert, the NH Program’s other co-director. “In the absence of just and humane immigration policies, the program has provided some necessary relief for thousands of people. These protections should be expanded, not rescinded.”

Many DACA recipients have also spoken out about how DACA has impacted them and why future programs or legislation need to be expanded. “As an undocumented student, I was able to benefit from DACA. This enabled me to continue my education, get a job with AFSC, and pursue a master’s degree,” said Jesús Palafox, Regional Administrative Associate in AFSC’s Chicago office. “DACA has been very helpful to me, but I am just part of a tiny minority of millions of people living in this country who need to be able to adjust their status. We need solutions that include everyone.”

Despite the setback, AFSC and immigrant rights groups across the country say this movement for immigrant rights, family reunification and social justice is not over. “We will continue our work – in the courts, in our communities, and in the streets – until everyone has access to legal status,” said Fogarty.

Labor Speaks Out Against Ending DACA

“President Donald Trump’s move to terminate DACA and strip work authorization away from 800,000 productive members of our society is cruel and wrong,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “Ending DACA will increase the pool of vulnerable workers in our country and embolden employers to retaliate against working men and women who dare to organize on the job or speak out against abusive working conditions. This indefensible act will make our workplaces less fair and less safe and will undermine our freedom to join together and fight to raise wages and standards.”

“This direct attack on union members and union values only strengthens our resolve to overcome racial divisions and demand changes to a system rigged to benefit the wealthiest and corporations. The eyes of history are upon us. The labor movement will stand with these brave young workers and fight for legislation so that the contributions they make are celebrated, rather than assaulted. We will push for a pathway to citizenship and continue to oppose enforcement policies that discriminate and generate fear in our workplaces and communities. We will not give up the struggle until all working people have rights on the job, regardless of where they were born,” Trumka added.

“President Trump has left 800,000 lives in limbo by rescinding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). We condemn this appalling and counterproductive action,” said United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez. “Donald Trump is scapegoating immigrants who were already vetted by the federal government and who are not a threat to our country. Trump taking DACA away from Dreamers so that he can try to deport them is heartless and immoral.”

“Many Dreamers are farm workers who feed this nation or their sons and daughters. They are also doctors, lawyers, researchers, students—all of them supporting America. This is the only home most of them have known,” Rodriguez added.

“Donald Trump’s announcement today that Deferred Childhood Arrivals Act (DACA) will be terminated in six months barring congressional intervention is an astounding act of political cowardice, and a missed opportunity to make a significant step towards comprehensive immigration reform,” said UNITE HERE International President D. Taylor and General Vice President Maria Elena Durazo in a joint statement. “Donald Trump has passed the buck to Congress on what even he has acknowledged is a humanitarian crisis, because of his lack of political courage. Donald Trump, by failing to perform as a leader, has placed the fates of the 800,000 law abiding, tax-paying immigrant workers with DACA status in the hands of a dysfunctional Congress.”

“Because of Trump’s refusal to show political courage, it is now incumbent upon the American Congress to take immediate action to save DACA. The American hospitality industry relies heavily on DACA and Temporary Protective Status (TPS) workers to run, and the termination of DACA will have serious negative consequences for the tourism industry because of this. Under DACA, 800,000 immigrants have received work authorizations, including many hospitality workers and their families. Through this program, young people have been able to fulfill their dreams to live, work, study, and contribute legally to America without fear of deportation. Elimination of legal worker status will not result in immigrants self-deporting.  It will result in preventing hospitality industry workers from working lawfully and force them into the underground economy of undocumented workers exploited by bad businesses.

“Because of Donald Trump, 800,000 legal workers are now facing loss of their ability to work legally, and face deportation and loss of their families. It is imperative that the Congress act immediately to protect the 800,000 DACA workers whose fate is now in their hands. It is now up to Congress whether these nearly one million immigrants, who contribute to the American economy, live productive and meaningful lives, and attain education and employment at higher levels than natural born Americans, lose their most basic rights to live in a country they were brought to as children. UNITE HERE resoundingly condemns termination of DACA, as well as Trump’s lack of political courage, and will work tirelessly to advocate to the Republican-controlled Congress for justice for DACA workers,” UNITE HERE concluded.

“The young people covered by DACA are woven into our communities—learning in, working in, defending and contributing to the country that is their home,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers. “Offering protection to DACAmented immigrants was done based on the understanding that America is stronger when we value people and create opportunity to achieve the American dream, regardless of demography or geography.”

“President Trump made a promise that he would treat Dreamers with ‘great heart.’ Now, for seemingly political reasons, he is breaking his promise to students, teachers, doctors, nurses and lawyers who took him at his word. This is not the America I know—an America that says one thing to its citizens and then does another. Betraying DACA Dreamers is betraying the values of our diverse and welcoming nation. America will not be stronger or more secure when these young people are torn away from the country they love and call their own. America will be diminished—and the toll will be measured by families ripped apart, people cast into the shadows and into poverty, businesses upended, economies weakened and dreams shattered.”

“As children return to school, many carry with them constant, crippling terror and uncertainty because of their immigration status. Children should be free to learn and live without fear. Inhumane immigration policies deprive them of that freedom.”

“The AFT will continue to fight to protect undocumented students, refugees, individuals with temporary protective status, and their families from the threat of deportation. A nation built by immigrants should welcome those in pursuit of the American dream, not pull up the ladder behind us,” Weingarten concluded.

Chris Shelton, President of the Communication Workers of America called the move “cruel and mean-spirited.”

“These young people were brought here by their parents at a very young age. They know no other home than the United States, and have made productive, successful lives here, contributing to their communities and looking to be full participants in our nation.  The United States is their home country.

Democrats and Republicans, including the Republican leadership, have urged the President not to eliminate DACA. It’s now up to Congress to focus on passing legislation to protect these innocent young people. DACA should not be eliminated until Congress passes a replacement,” Shelton concluded.

“The Teamsters are disappointed by this decision, as the union has long supported immigration reform and a path to citizenship for our nation’s ‘dreamers’. These young people are already citizens in every way that matters and deserve to have all of the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by U.S.-born children,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “The Teamsters Union supports comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship.  Today’s action by the Administration makes the need for congressional action all the more urgent. It is time to pass legislation that will ensure the futures of these children and young adults so that they may pursue the American dream as millions of immigrants have done before them.”

“Many of the young people covered by DACA are young professionals, working as teachers, doctors, nurses, and lawyers, who contribute greatly to the American economy,” said Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) President Paul E. Almeida. “By eliminating the DACA program, President Trump is ripping over 800,000 hard-working young people from their communities, jobs, and families. DPE stands with the young professionals and union members affected by the termination of DACA and will work to help these young people stay in the place that they call home.”

“President Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) today is a disgrace. This is not what the United States of America represents, nor is it who we are. This policy is another clear example of White Supremacy strategies and tactics and we denounce it,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, Secretary-Treasurer of the Culinary Union Local 226 (Las Vegas). “This action is shameful and completely stains the Republican party. We call on Republican legislators in the Senate and Congress to support young immigrants and work with Democrats to pass a clean, stand-alone DREAM Act. We call on our Las Vegas employers on the Las Vegas Strip and in Downtown Las Vegas to stand with your workforce and to not let this immoral decision pass quietly. ”

“Instead of putting young people on a pathway to citizenship, the administration’s heartless act today forces immigrant children into the shadows of our society based solely on their immigrant status,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Reversing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program renders undocumented people targets for unscrupulous employers, wage theft, and other abuses in the workplace, limits educational opportunities, and weakens the economic well-being of their families, including their citizen spouses, siblings and offspring.  It is also a cruel example of how the current Administration’s advancement of policies that promote racial and ethnic profiling and xenophobia have further emboldened white nationalists, who have a history of contributing to a climate of fear and hate.”

“Even after the departure of Steve Bannon, the Trump Administration continues to signal that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is brimming with white nationalist-fueled policies,” said Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta. “Rather than going after greedy CEOs and corporations that depress wages, offshore jobs, fuel economic insecurity, and make workplaces worse, President Trump has decided to scapegoat young immigrants who are working hard, contributing to the U.S. economy, and making a better life for themselves and their families.”

United We Dream is organizing support rallies for Dreamers all across the country.  Click here to find an event near you. 

Below is an infographic from United We Dream of the 5 thinks to know about the end of DACA.

(Featured image from  Not 1 More rally in 2014. Image by the LBJ Foundation FLIKR)

Labor Speaks Out Against Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Presidential Pardon

Image by Gage Skidmore

Yesterday, President Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio who was convicted for violating people’s civil rights in his anti-immigrant crusade.

“The criminal conviction grew out of a lawsuit filed a decade ago charging that the sheriff’s office regularly violated the rights of Latinos, stopping people based on racial profiling, detaining them based solely on the suspicion that they were in the country illegally and turning them over to the immigration authorities”, reported the New York Times.

“Joe Arpaio terrorized and harassed Hispanic workers, regardless of immigration status, for the six terms he served as Sheriff,” said UNITE HERE in a written statement. “Under him, illegal racial profiling of law abiding citizens ran rampant in the most populated county in Arizona, and he institutionalized systematic discrimination against Hispanic workers across Phoenix that included frequent violations of the U.S. constitution.  UNITE HERE is proud to have challenged his election multiple cycles with the “Adios Arpaio” campaign focused around activating Hispanic voters in Maricopa County – voters who ultimately threw Arpaio out of public office last November.”

UNITE HERE’s represents 270,000 workers mainly in the hotel, restaurant, gaming industry. Their membership is quite diverse and includes some “undocumented” immigrants.  UNITE HERE negotiates into their contracts some protections for workers who are waiting to gain legal citizenship.

“Donald Trump’s pardon of convicted criminal Joe Arpaio is an attack on immigrants writ large, and shows Trump’s support for Arpaio’s illegal practices. With a dozen TPS expirations looming in the next year and the fate of DACA at imminent risk, we are deeply troubled that Trump is pardoning criminals and sympathizing with racial bigots instead of protecting the law abiding, tax-paying immigrant workers on those programs who make the American economy run, and make this country truly great,” UNITE HERE added.

The United Farm Workers, were quick to condemn Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio.

“We are extremely disappointed with President Trump. He has consistently shown no respect for the hardworking immigrants of this nation,” said the United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez. “His pardoning of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio is shameful. Time and again, immigrants have demonstrated that they are the backbone of agriculture and many other industries. The President should not be pardoning someone who has been so vicious towards immigrants and who has openly flouted a federal judge’s order to stop his racial discrimination.”

“President Trump didn’t just pardon a thug and a criminal, he undermined the rule of law and betrayed the basic norms of our democracy just to hype up his base. Democrats and Republicans alike, including Sen. John McCain and even right-wing members of Congress, have condemned this action because Trump’s blatant abuse of power undermines the dignity of the office of the presidency and tears at the fabric of a just and fair democracy built on the rule of law for all,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Secretary-Treasurer Lorretta Johnson and Executive Vice President Mary Cathryn Ricker in a written statement.

Even Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) blasted Trump for using his Presidential Pardon authority to pardon Arpaio.

“No one is above the law and the individuals entrusted with the privilege of being sworn law officers should always seek to be beyond reproach in their commitment to fairly enforcing the laws they swore to uphold. Mr. Arpaio was found guilty of criminal contempt for continuing to illegally profile Latinos living in Arizona based on their perceived immigration status in violation of a judge’s orders. The President has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions.”

Ray Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party summed it up perfectly by saying:

“His pardon is a wink and a nod to law enforcement around the country that, if you discriminate against and abuse people unlawfully, you will be rescued from prison by the President of the United States. There is no justification for Trump’s pardon and anyone who tries to defend it is defending criminal discrimination with clear eyes.”

This pardon is just political payback for all that Arpaio has done for Trump during his campaign, adding another notch in his already corrupt administration.

#DefendDACA: Labor Celebrates DACA’s 5th Anniversary And Calls On Trump To Extend Program

“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status programs provide work authorization to more than 1 million people, preventing workplace exploitation and protecting their freedom to join together in a union. We are all stronger when working people have the status to assert their rights on the job and stand together against a rigged system to change the rules of the economy,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“DACA and TPS holders are members of our families, our unions and our communities who have made positive contributions to our society for many years. We will not allow them to lose their rights and status. We will stand with them in the fight to defend these programs as a necessary part of our long-term struggle to ensure that all working people have rights at work and the freedom to negotiate together for fair pay and conditions,” Trumka added.

Geraldine Vessagne

“TPS has allowed me to provide for my five children, including two back home, and three born here. But this isn’t just about me. Over 50,000 Haitian nationals working in the U.S. have this protected status. We are the engine of Florida’s hospitality industry, much of which greatly depends on our labor,” said Gerdine Vessagne, a housekeeper at Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach, FL and a UNITE HERE member.

“If TPS is removed, I will not be able to have a place to live, I will not be able to feed my children. I do not know what will happen to my children here in the United States. Nothing I have, none of my papers, would be valid. I will lose my job, lose my license. I will lose everything.” Vessagne added.

Maria Elena Durazo Unite HERE Vice President

“The American hospitality industry runs because of the women and men on DACA and TPS working in it,” said Maria Elena Durazo, UNITE HERE General Vice President. “These immigrants prove their value to this country every day, and many have been living in and contributing to America for more than a decade. These men and women have deep roots in this country, and are long time employees, spouses, parents, neighbors, and community members. Losing DACA and TPS would destroy both their families and the hotel industry that is built on their work. We must extend TPS and protect DACA – for our sisters and brothers working under them, for their family, and for the health of the American economy.”

Reyna Sorto

Having a protected immigration status provides workers the strength to speak out against employer oppression.

“Employers exploit immigrant workers because they think our fear will keep us silent from speaking out against abuses, even though TPS is not permanent, it does provide a level of protection that can give a worker strength to speak truth to power and denounce exploitative working conditions,” said IUPAT member Reyna Sorto

DACA members are everywhere, including our public school system. Areli Zarate, is a DACA recipient, a High School Spanish Teacher in Austin, Texas, and an AFT member.

Areli Zarate

“DACA allowed me the opportunity to come out of the shadows and lose the fear of deportation. I have a social security number and work permit which gives me the opportunity to follow my dream and teach. I am about to begin my fourth year of teaching with a big heart filled with love and passion for my profession. I am dedicated to my students and it’s hard to see myself doing something else. Yet, every time I have to renew my DACA I am reminded that my status is temporary. I am currently pending a decision on my renewal and I am praying to God that I will be allowed to teach for another 2 years until my next renewal.”

Karen Reyes

Karen Reyes is another DACA recipient and AFT teacher in Austin, TX.

“DACA made me visible. It made me realize that those opportunities that I thought were not for me – were now possible. DACA made it possible for me to be able to find a job in teaching. It made it possible to be able to earn money to be help out my mom while she went through numerous health issues. DACA made it possible for me to teach children who are deaf and hard of hearing. I am able to help these students and families on their journey to being able to communicate and achieve their dreams. It made it possible for me to be more vocal for those who still don’t think they have a voice.”

For five years DACA has proven to be a successful program that has help nearly a million immigrants who came to this country as children. We cannot let President Trump destroy the DACA.

Join the fight to #DefendDACA.

Why Everyone Should Be A Fair Hotel Partner

If you are like me, when you travel you try to spend your money in a responsible way that helps the people of the community you are visiting. I like to eat at small “mom and pop” restaurants and to stay at a union hotel whenever I can.

We all know that workers in union hotels have strong workplace protections, benefits, and are usually paid a little better. Which is important to support these union hotels.

Unite HERE is one of the fastest growing unions in the country. They have organized over 8,000 workers this year alone. Unite HERE has been organizing restaurant, hotel, and service industry workers all across the country.

Nelson Lucero works the Starbucks counter inside one of Las Vegas’s biggest hotels. He is a proud member of the Culinary Union local 226. I asked him why him why he chose to be in the union? He said, “I want to make sure that my generation has the opportunity to provide for our families. After 5 years I have a pension, healthcare, and paid vacation.”

Union workers in Las Vegas, like Nelson, earn on average $3,580 more per year than their non-union counterparts. In Boston, a union housekeeper makes on average $10 an hour more than their non-union housekeeper in Miami. This does not include their benefit package that consists of a pension, paid vacation and sick time, and comprehensive healthcare for their entire family with no monthly premium.Aside from the usual protections that come with being a union member, Unite HERE is blazing a new path forward with additional protections for their largely immigrant workforce. They are working with employers to put language into their contracts to protect “undocumented” workers from deportation.

They have also worked with employers combat sexual harassment in the workplace and to increase the safety of housekeepers.  Unite HERE has negotiated in some of their recent contracts to have “panic buttons” installed in every hotel room.  So far over 30 hotels have installed these panic buttons and Unite HERE is pushing a ballot initiative in Chicago to mandate panic buttons in all area hotels. A similar ballot measure passed in Seattle last November.

Unite HERE is also helping their members live better lives. “We just opened a new health clinic that is free for members,” said Bethany Kahn, Communications Director for the Culinary Union local 226.

The health and welfare of their members is part of the reason that the Culinary Union help push through SB 265, a bill that protects people from rapid increases in their Diabetes medications.

“Our members phone banked for 15-20 minutes during their lunch break, and did door to door canvases on the weekends,” explained Kahn.

Even after “Big Pharma” hired an army of high priced lobbyist to kill this bill, the bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Sandoval.

Now, Unite HERE is making it easier for you to support their organizing efforts and to stay at a union hotel with their free, Fair Hotel app. The app makes it easy to choose a union hotel in your destination city.
(Download the Fair Hotel app from Itunes or the Google Play store)

 

The app is only a small part of Unite Here’s Fair Hotel campaign. The best part is for businesses and organization that are planning events and conventions.

Fair Hotel recommends model protective contract language for its partners that can protect events from possible labor disputes The Fair Hotel representative contacts the hotel’s local union representative to make sure there is no current or upcoming labor issues at the hotel. This will ensure that your event attendees will not have to cross a picket line to get to their hotel.

This contract language means that the hotel must notify you within ten days if a labor dispute does arise. In the unfortunate event that a labor dispute does arise the contract language allows you to move, change or cancel your event at no cost. This puts added pressure on the hotels to ensure labor harmony or lose what could be millions of dollars in sales when the convention packs up and leaves

So, you are probably saying, where do I sign up?

Go to ww.FairHotel.Org and sign up to become a Fair Hotel partner. Netroots Nation, LiUNA, Interfaith Worker Justice, and Pride at Work are few of the over 100 Fair Hotel partners.

You can rest easy staying at a Fair Hotel

 

Congresswoman Shea-Porter Votes ‘No’ On Anti-Immigrant Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the US House voted on HR 3004, also known as “Kate’s Law”. The bill, named after Kate Steinle, who was murdered by an immigrant who reentered the United States illegally multiple times.  HR 3004, claims to strengthen the punishment for illegally reentering the US however many argue the bill would also target those seeking asylum in the US.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) released the following statement on HR 3004:

“Today, I voted against H.R.3004, or ‘Kate’s Law,’ which is opposed by dozens of religious groups, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities USA, the Church World Service, the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Refugee and Immigrant Center Alliance, the New Hampshire Conference United Church of Christ Immigration Working Group, the American Friends Service Committee, T’ruah: the Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and the Unitarian Universalist Association.

“Let me be clear: the killing of Kate Steinle was a horrible and inexcusable crime, and my heart goes out to her family and loved ones. This should never have happened. We must investigate the breakdown in policy that led to Kate’s tragic death. This bill would, however, have serious negative consequences by increasing the likelihood that innocent asylum seekers, trafficking victims, and other non-criminal immigrants will be imprisoned. These victims would be in trouble if they presented themselves at ports of entry to seek help.

Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez who is accused of murdering Kate Stienle, was convicted of multiple illegal reentry offenses under current law. Between September 1998 and March 2015, Mr. Lopez-Sanchez spent a total of 16-and-a-half years in federal prison as a result of three illegal re-entry convictions.

Congresswoman Shea-Porter also voted against HR 3003 a bill to strip local municipalities of federal aid for having policies that hinder immigration officers or fail to enforce federal immigration laws.  The bill is directly targeting so-called “sanctuary cities” who have declared that they will not uphold Trump’s deportation initiative.

President Trump attempted to push through similar policies through an executive order in January. The order was blocked by a federal judge in April.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) released the following statement on HR 3003:

“I also voted against H.R.3003, which the US Conference of Mayors strongly opposed and the Fraternal Order of Police said would unjustly ‘penalize law enforcement and the citizens they serve because Congress disagrees with their enforcement priorities with respect to our immigration laws.’ We must stand up for proper funding for law enforcement. It is unjust to jeopardize our local police agencies, which are already underfunded and understaffed. The policies this bill seeks to end are designed to improve trust in law enforcement and help our police officers do their jobs effectively. We should not take away local communities’ and law enforcement agencies’ ability to decide how to do their jobs.”

Interfaith Groups To Hold Prayer Vigil To Show Support For Immigrants

Interfaith prayer vigil at federal building June 6 to show support for immigrant families facing threat of deportation

 

MANCHESTER, NEW HAMPSHIRE —New Hampshire faith leaders will host an interfaith prayer vigil outside the offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Tuesday, June 6, from 8:30 to 9:30 AM to show support for immigrant families who are facing the threat of detention and deportation.

The peaceful vigil outside the Norris Cotton Federal Building, 275 Chestnut Street in Manchester, will call upon ICE to “Let them stay,” and to “Keep families together.”

More than 70 immigrants are scheduled for appointments with ICE on that day.  “Each time they report, they fear ICE will take them into custody for deportation,” said Rev. Eric Jackson, pastor of Brookside Congregational Church and president of the Greater Manchester NAACP.

“In many cases, these are people who have lived and worked as our New Hampshire neighbors for more than a decade,” he continued.  “We are praying for ICE to let them remain in New Hampshire with their families.”

Leaders of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish congregations are expected to participate.

LiUNA’s Statement On International Workers Day

Washington, D.C. (May 1, 2017) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA, the Laborers’ International Union of North America, today made the following statement on International Workers’ Day:

As we mark the May Day Holiday, it is time to reflect on the struggles that gave birth to the Labor movement and honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the battle for dignity and justice while also re-dedicating ourselves to win justice and basic rights for all workers.

The Haymarket Uprising in May of 1886 in Chicago was a turning point in the Labor movement and in our nation; marking a point when workers of all creeds united together as one to win their rightful place in our society.   On that fateful day in Haymarket Square some workers and police were tragically killed in the violence and chaos.

Workers stood fearless and united against tyranny and greed to win better working conditions.  Many of the men and women who gathered in the square that day were immigrant workers. They came to America filled with hope and eager for opportunity. And, once here they fought for a better, safer, more dignified way of life.

Today, an increasing number of workers in America are just like those of Haymarket, whether immigrants who are here seeking a better life or native workers who are struggling just to hold on.

Then as now, workers face the same greed and immorality. And, the most vulnerable workers, immigrants, often find themselves targeted with the most vicious abuses of their rights as workers. And, it is the politicians and their special interest backers who have failed to fix our flawed immigration system, who are answerable for the pain and hardship they are wreaking not only on America’s newest immigrants but on all working people; for in denying any class of people their basic rights and subjecting them to exploitative conditions, it is an injury to all.

LIUNA has been a tireless advocate for fair and just comprehensive immigration and we will continue that fight; recommitting ourselves to a movement that never backs up and never backs down in the fight for civil rights, human rights, workers’ rights and union rights.

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