UFCW Joins Immigrant Rights Groups at the Supreme Court to Demand Justice for Immigrant Workers

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In the midst of an ongoing legal battle that has suspended President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, the UFCW joined labor leaders and immigrant families as they gathered at the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to demand the implementation of the president’s immigration programs. The deferred action programs, known as DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), would have provided immigration relief for over five million aspiring Americans. Unfortunately, the implementation of this program has been held up in the courts by an anti-immigrant lawsuit that has made its way to the Supreme Court.

Under strong pressure from the UFCW, the Obama Administration gave hard-working men and women the ability to apply for legal work status and some piece of mind. While these programs are temporary and not a substitute for comprehensive immigration reform, the UFCW knows that they are necessary and long overdue for our members.

Yesterday’s rally at the Supreme Court sent a strong message that the UFCW will continue pushing forward with our efforts to build worker power for immigrants and ensure that when the legal ruling on DAPA and expanded DACA are rendered, UFCW members are first in line when the application process begins.

Local 2013 and RWDSU Local 338 Lobby for Health Care Workers in Albany

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UFCW Local 2013 and RWDSU Local 338 brought more than 60 members to the Health Care Lobby Day in Albany, including home health aides, certified nursing assistants, medication technicians, dietary workers, and housekeepers from a variety of health care facilities.

They met with legislators and staff from 23 Assembly and Senate districts, including the New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“Many of our members rely on the state to fund their contract increases,” said Local 2013 President Mark Carotenuto. “That’s why it’s so important that legislators hear from our members directly.”

Una Brown, a Local 2013 member and Executive Board vice president, works as a home health aide at Americare. “I love my work, but the pay is not enough,” Brown said. “Many of my coworkers have to sign up with two or three agencies to make a living.”

In New York City, one out of every seven low wage workers are employed as a home care aide. The hourly mean wage for home health aides is approximately $10.75 per hour, or $22,360 a year, in the state.

Home health aides would see a $5,000 per year raise if hourly wages are increased to $15 per hour.

Raising wages would reduce employee turnover and lower dependence on public assistance. According to a State Senate report, 56 percent of direct care workers in New York State receive some sort of public assistance.

Local 2013 and RWDSU Local 338 have been strong backers of the Fight for $15 in New York State for years, participating in lobby meetings, rallies, and marching in the streets with other local unions and community groups.

But since health care reimbursements are set by the state, Carotenuto said, increases in minimum wage have to be matched with increases in Medicaid and other state programs. “The legislature needs to step up and fund an appropriate budget,” he said.

They are hopeful that their visit to the Capitol in Albany will make a difference with legislators who may be on the fence and are committed to lobbying again later this year.

UFCW Members in Missouri Lobby Legislators in Jefferson City

Earlier this month, UFCW members from Locals 2, 88 and 655 went to the Capitol in Jefferson City to encourage legislators to stop paycheck deception and an unfair “right to work” law.

They were there at the right time, too. The paycheck deception bill was in the process of passing the Senate and being sent over to the House. It offered an excellent opportunity for UFCW members to speak with their legislators about why paycheck deception is an unnecessary burden that makes it more difficult for workers to have a voice in the political process.

Raylene Barton, a member of Local 655 who works at Dierbergs, had this to say about why she participated in lobby day.

“I’m lobbying to ensure fairness for working men and women,” said Barton. “If we don’t do it now, we’re going to have a bloodbath like we did in the 20s and 30s and it will hurt a lot of people. Being here is so important because politics is the new frontier for unions. If we can’t get worker friendly legislation on the books, then we’re going to be beat down even further.”

Raylene also discussed the upcoming presidential election.

“I’m scared to death of Donald Trump and will do my damndest to see that the Democratic nominee is elected,” she said. “Trump brings out the worst in the American people. He’s just a headline maker who has no experience with diplomacy, has no business being a world leader and would be no friend to my hard-working friends and family members.”

Unfortunately, the paycheck deception bill ended up passing both the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor’s desk, where it is expected to be vetoed. Members were optimistic that, thanks to their frank conversations with legislators, the governor’s veto would be upheld.

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