11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce to Keep in Mind During Hispanic Heritage Month

Originally posted by AFL-CIO

11 Important Facts About Latinos in the U.S. Workforce

In a new report released this week, Latino Workers and Unions: A Strategic Partnership for America’s Progress, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement details the work environment for Latinos in the U.S. workforce. The picture the report paints isn’t a pretty one. Here are 11 important facts about Latino workers in the United States:

1. The Latino population is the fastest growing group in the United States, currently at more than 55.4 million (17% of the overall population).

2. More than 26 million Latinos represent about 15% of the workforce, a number expected to nearly double by 2050.

3. In 2013, nearly one in four Latino families lived below the poverty line, nearly twice the national poverty rate.

4. Nearly one-fourth of Latinos work in low-wage jobs.

5. In 2014, the Latino unemployment rate was 6.7%, above the national rate of 5.5%.

6. In 2014, the average nonunion Latino made just $547 a week.

7. More than two-thirds of Latinos lack retirement accounts, and more than 80% of Latino households have less than $10,000 in retirement savings.

8. Nearly 30% of Latinos lack health insurance.

9. More than three-fourths of Latino workers work in jobs where they face minimum wage or overtime pay violations.

10. In 2013, nearly 800 Latinos died at U.S. workplaces, the highest total since 2008.

11. Latinas on the job earn only 56% of what a white man earns and more than 75% of Latinas in the southern part of the United States report sexual assault being an issue in the workplace.

The report says that the key way for Latinos to improve this situation is through unions, a partnership that will yield many benefits for unions, too. The report concludes:

Although the current outlook for Latinos is uncertain, their potential for growth is impressive. Wielding over $1.5 trillion in purchasing power, making huge gains in the workforce and electorate, it’s no surprise that the future for Latinos can be drastically different and positive. But in order to realize this potential, Latinos must harness their strengths and exert their voice in the workplace.

Gaining access to a union will be an essential step for Latino workers and their families. Through union representation, Latinos can achieve higher wages that will help them fight poverty and gain access to health and retirement benefits.

The True Meaning of Labor Day

DSC_0180Today, The Hill published an Op-Ed by UFCW International President Marc Perrone and Executive Vice President Esther Lopez. In it, they remind us all that Labor Day isn’t just about celebrating the end of summer and cooking out. It’s a day to celebrate all hard-working men and women in America, including those who have been left out, thanks to our broken immigration system. Read the full op-ed below:

While many Americans look at Labor Day as the last weekend of summer and another opportunity to sit back and enjoy a barbeque with friends and family—the holiday was created to celebrate the accomplishments of hard-working men and women.

Labor Day is about celebrating the sacrifices working people have made to the shared prosperity of this country. It’s about valuing people, regardless of where they were born, for their work and the contributions they make to the economic well-being of our great country.

This Labor Day, we must challenge the political status quo that has left too many hard-working men and women to struggle alone in the shadows.

Nowhere has the failure of the status quo been more evident than in the struggle fix our country’s broken immigration system. There are over 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country, over 8 million of which are active in the workforce. We’re talking about workers, parents, community leaders, friends and neighbors whose hard work and daily contributions to our economy merit full participation in our society.

While an overwhelming majority of Americans support comprehensive immigration reform, our national dialogue continues to be hijacked by endless fearmongering and the antics of presidential campaigns jockeying for 2016.

Case in point, Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s eccentric soundbites have not only dominated the conversation, they have further divided and obfuscated the serious debate over our country’s immigration crisis. Along with Mr. Trump’s unrealistic campaign promise to build a wall along our 2,000-mile long southern border, his calls for overturning the 14th amendment and constitutional right of birthright citizenship are radical and dangerous.

Immigration reform will clearly be a key issue as we head into the 2016 presidential elections. Both parties have a responsibility to engage in a substantive debate about how we can actually fix a broken immigration system that penalizes workers and families. Too much is at stake to let this important issue be driven by extreme proposals and divisive rhetoric.

All politicians, those in office and those running for office, need to understand that the inaction that has pervaded our political system is unacceptable. Inaction is not an option for millions of hard-working men and women who aspire to be Americans.

Above all, we as a country cannot afford to continue down a path that enables and permits employers to exploit all workers by cutting wages, lowering benefits, and punishing those who dare to speak out for a better life.

We would hope that every candidate acknowledges the fact that if you live and work hard in America, if you’re contributing to the prosperity of this nation, you should have the opportunity to become an American.

This Labor Day, let’s honor and respect the work of all hard-working people.

For the sake of a better America we all must believe in, let’s put divisive partisan politics aside and challenge our 2016 candidates to do what is right for the country, and not themselves.

Perrone is the president of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. López is executive vice president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.

UFCW Immigration Work will be Honored in September

imm awardThe UFCW’s immigration programs will be honored by the Center for Community Change at its annual “Change Champion Awards” ceremony on September 17 in Washington, D.C.

Under the leadership of UFCW International President Marc Perrone and UFCW Executive Vice President Esther López, the UFCW is proud to lead the fight for immigration reform through two signature immigration programs which reach all levels of the union and our nation.

The first, known as Union Citizenship Action Network (UCAN), provides members a platform to learn from seasoned immigrants’ rights advocates about the critical skills and tools needed to go through the naturalization process and become U.S. citizens. The second program is designed to help UFCW members get ready for Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals (DAPA).

Representing workers from all over the globe, the UFCW has seen the devastation caused by the broken immigration system in the United States. From ICE raids in meatpacking plants, to the endless threat of deportation, members and immigrant communities across the United States have been failed by the inaction of elected officials. Their deafening silence in the face of exploitative labor practices that have driven down wages, benefits, and the working conditions of all workers only serves to perpetuate a crisis that continues to grow.

Congress has yet to pass legislation, but the UFCW is not sitting back and waiting for politicians to act. Local unions are hosting workshops to help members determine whether they qualify, gather necessary documentation, prescreen their applications, and answer important legal questions. The UFCW is committed to ensuring that when a legal ruling on DAPA is finally rendered, UFCW members will either be ready to file for it or fight for it.

The UFCW is proud to accept this award and is committed to fighting for the rights of all hard-working men and women.