Labor unions are using Arizona’s new immigrant trespassing law to bolster their organizing efforts among Hispanic workers.
Union representatives say they are seeing a surge in inquiries from Hispanic workers in Arizona worried about the new law and the potential for more police raids and inquiries into their workplaces.
“We are getting more calls,” said Scott Washburn, state director of the Service Employees International Union. SEIU has about 4,000 members in Arizona, mostly in the public sector.
Washburn would not disclose what percentage of SEIU members are Hispanic versus other ethnicities. He said the union does not ask potential members to prove their legal status.
Arizona AFL-CIO Director Rebekah Friend said the immigration debate and the law are encouraging Hispanic workers to look at organizing and becoming more involved politically.
“The more downward pressure you put on workers, the more likely they are to join a union,” she said.
Employment attorneys confirmed the law is making Arizona a target for a number of unions looking to organize workers in the construction and service sectors.
“Several unions, Unite Here and SEIU, have harbored desires to build a presence among lower-wage service industries, such as commercial janitor services, hospitality and resorts,” Lomax said. “Expect to see these and other unions join the political debate in Arizona — and, if they find the right opportunity, they will pursue organizing.”
After all, as Rahm Emanuel once said: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”
Apparently, the unions were listening.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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