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  • Wednesday, April 19, 2006 Hoffa: Protect Our Borders -- And Our Workers

    James Hoffa: Protect Our Boders -- And Our Workers

    As the debate about immigration reform rages on, we have to remember what this issue is not about. It's not about race. It's not about fear. Instead, it's about making sure that all workers -- including immigrants -- are empowered to stand up for their basic workplace rights.

    There's no question that we must do a better job protecting our borders, and the Teamsters support legislation that contains smart border security measures. But that does nothing to address the millions of undocumented workers already here. And let's face it -- they are here to stay. Big business should not be allowed to continue reaping the rewards of their cheap labor.

    That's why Congress must create a path toward legalization for America's undocumented workers. Doing nothing only allows employers to take advantage of workers' undocumented status - keeping wages low and unions out.

    Consider this: Managers threaten to call immigration authorities in 52 percent of all union organizing efforts involving undocumented workers, according to research by Cornell University professor Kate Bronfenbrenner.

    Statistics like that don't just hurt undocumented workers. They hurt all workers. Undocumented employees become too afraid to bargain for better working conditions and form unions. As a result, all workers face downward pressure on their wages.

    I know it might be too much to ask the Republican leadership to consider the human factor, but that's key here as well. Millions of vulnerable immigrants toil in our nation's most dangerous and demanding jobs. And they spend their workdays in a state of fear.

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  • Wednesday, March 29, 2006 Statement of Change to Win Chair Anna Burger on the Immigration Reform Bill Approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee

    “The Senate Judiciary Committee took a historic step by approving a comprehensive immigration reform measure that if enacted will allow millions of hard-working immigrants to come out of the shadows and fully participate in the American Dream. The bill recognizes that immigrants are an integral part of the American workforce, and that these workers deserve the same rights and protections U.S. workers enjoy. “The power of one million workers and family members marching in the streets in the last week helped make this bill possible. Now it is time for people of all political parties, races and income levels to come together around a real solution to our immigration problem, rather than continue to engage in demagoguery and promote divisiveness.

    “Senators Specter and Kennedy, and other committee members including Sens. Brownback, DeWine, Durbin, Feinstein, Graham and Leahy deserve the utmost praise for leading the charge against the draconian enforcement-only approach of Senate Majority Leader Frist and the House of Representatives. “This is a truly bipartisan measure that provides a comprehensive approach to immigration reform. That is the only way to tackle this complex issue and to ensure justice and fairness for U.S. workers and immigrant workers alike.

    “The Judiciary Committee bill will improve our national security by strengthening our borders with more personnel and more advanced technology to prevent illegal immigration. We should not squander our enforcement resources arresting and detaining dishwashers, janitors, farmworkers, and nursing home or construction workers.

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  • Monday, March 20, 2006 Change to Win Unveils Major Initiative to Organize Millions of Workers

    Labor Group's "Make Work Pay!" Campaign is Centerpiece of Gathering of 2,000 Organizers

    Las Vegas, NV - The seven-union Change to Win federation today unveiled its new campaign to unite millions of workers across the country in an effort to raise living standards and improve the quality of life for American workers. With 2,000 organizers meeting in Las Vegas for the federation's first organizing convention, Change to Win leaders announced that the Make Work Pay! campaign will launch on the week of April 24 with actions targeting major industries in more than 35 cities.

    "The Make Work Pay! campaign is about ensuring that millions of taxpayers who are working harder and longer with less to show for it are able to be part of the American middle class," said Anna Burger, Chair of Change to Win. She added "We are fighting so that individuals who work hard can earn paychecks that actually support families; receive affordable health care, have the chance to give their children a better life and count on a secure retirement.

    "We are going to reach out to those workers who are not yet organized and to the members of the public that understand and support the notion that this country can't exist without a vibrant middle class," Burger said. "This campaign will empower the millions of workers to help them effect real change to make work pay."

    The campaign's launch week will activate union members and community allies across the country to support efforts by workers to unite. The seven union affiliates that make up Change to Win are forming local cross-union campaign teams that will work together as single entities to unite workers in their cities in an effort to make work pay.

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  • Monday, March 20, 2006 Introductory Remarks by Change to Win Executive Director Greg Tarpinian

    Change to Win Organizing Convention, March 20, 2006

    Good Morning Brothers and Sisters!

    My name is Greg Tarpinian. I am the Executive Director of Change to Win, and I want to welcome you to the history-making first Change to Win Organizing Convention.

    We first made history last September when our unions decided to build a new labor federation for the first time in fifty years.

    And next week we will make history when our new labor federation turns six months old. Six months. But we have accomplished so much in that time.

    Last year we created a federation that took on the awesome responsibility of uniting millions of workers into unions in order to restore the American Dream.

    We took on the challenge of raising wages and winning health care and retirement security for the tens of millions of workers who work hard and play by the rules but are not getting ahead.

    Since that time -- six months ago -- we have put in place the building blocks needed to move our agenda to Restore the American Dream.

    At our founding Convention, we pledged 75% of our federation's resources to large-scale organizing campaigns.

    And we have done that.

    We pledged to bring the resources of our seven unions together to build a mighty crusade to organize.

    And we have done that.

    Since September, our unions have collaborated as never before.

    The leadership and staff of our unions are working together as never before.

    We have integrated the organizing, global, political and capital power of our unions as never before.

    And our unions have come together to support one another as never before all in the name of winning for American workers.

    And we are having results.

    We came together to support the Teamsters in their campaign to organize Quebecor in a nationwide blitz that included all of our affiliates.

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  • Monday, March 20, 2006 Remarks By Change to Win Chair Anna Burger

    Change to Win Organizing Convention, March 20, 2006

    Thanks for coming to Las Vegas. This is an exciting event for us. We have more than 2,000 leaders, organizers, members and supporters here this week to begin creating an ongoing, sustainable campaign to Make Work Pay.

    Our "Make Work Pay" campaign will help unite the 50 million workers in jobs that will continue to provide vital services in our communities in the coming years: in transportation, distribution, retail, construction, leisure and hospitality, health care, property services, laundries, food production and processing, and other services.

    Our goal is to make these jobs into good, middle class jobs that can sustain families and contribute to communities -- in short to help these hard working men and women reach the American Dream.

    The American dream is really pretty simple. It's a job that pays a decent living wage, provides health care benefits and retirement security, and gives us a shot at providing our kids with opportunity for a good education.

    But we can no longer count on the American Dream.

    A lot of the jobs that used to provide this kind of opportunity have gone overseas. Lots of other jobs are with employers who don't provide the level of wages and benefits that can provide families with the American Dream.

    Our government can't fix this problem.

    Workers can't fix it on their own.

    Only when we come together and use the power of six million workers -- or fifty million workers -- can we raise the standard of living for all workers and ensure the preservation of the middle class and the American Dream.

    We need to remember that manufacturing jobs weren't always the good middle class jobs that they have been in the past few decades. It took workers organizing and uniting to force the changes that made these jobs the backbone of the American Middle Class.

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