Teamsters Local 952
140 S. Marks Way Orange, California 92868-2698
Phone: (714) 978-6111
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ernesto Medrano
Phone: (714) 740-6246
Teamsters Local 952 Hosts Seminar on Immigrant Workers’ Rights
Orange, California February 16, 2005 –The Local 952 hall was bustling as union leaders gathered to familiarize themselves with immigrant workers’ rights. The National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Teamsters Local 952, Orange County Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), and Tile, Marble & Terrazo Local 18 presented the Immigrant Workers’ Rights seminar to improve union organizing of immigrant workers; thus, allowing unions to be a more potent force in the labor movement. The volatile movement depends on a solid understanding of forces that impact labor’s progress. The United States Supreme Court’s Hoffman decision—which denies back pay to undocumented workers—is just one example of forces continually impacting the working climate. Therefore, the seminar aimed to expound on how to better serve members through myriad topics: immigrant workers’ rights—myths & realities, anti-discrimination provisions under INA, immigrant workers’ rights in California, contract language, employment verification systems, and national policies/legislation impacting immigrant workers.
NILC cited that fifty percent of new workers that entered the labor market during the 1990’s were foreign-born. These immigrants are increasingly frequenting worker centers—a center where workers gather and share information regarding employers and their rights—which illustrates a need for current information on workers’ rights. The daylong seminar exposed the truths concerning immigrant organizing and vital information to help unions get involved. Marielena Hincapié, Director of Programs for NILC in Los Angeles, gave an overview of immigrant workers’ employment rights. She explained how the Immigration Reform & Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 granted amnesty to immigrants living in the United States, while creating the I-9 form and making it unlawful to ‘knowingly’ hire illegal aliens. Additionally, IRCA established that all workers have the same rights (except back pay), including the rights under the United States Constitution. Marielena stressed the 5th Amendment and emphasized that workers have the right to remain silent, especially when the touchy issue of citizenship arises. Also, she covered Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers and discrimination. Bryon Wong, Attorney with the US DOJ Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices, explained citizenship/immigration status discrimination. He elucidated the I-9 process and reviewed the Social Security No-Match Letter technicalities. “The No-Match letter is not a document saying this worker cannot work, but simply that there is an error,” stated Bryon Wong. After lunch, State of California Senior Deputy Labor Commissioner Jorge L. Gomez Jr. focused on how unions must be labor code savvy to effectively protect their members. Ada Torres and Ernesto Medrano, Unite-HERE Local 6811 President and Teamsters Local 952 Business Agent/Organizer respectively, expressed the need for clear and concise contract language. The seminar concluded with Marielena Hincapié explaining the new employee verification systems and national policies/legislation impacting immigrant workers.
This Seminar served as an effective medium to encourage increased awareness of immigrant worker’s rights and the advancement of the Labor Movement. Patrick D. Kelly, Secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 952 remarked, “this forum should be duplicated throughout the nation and particularly in Southern California counties, so that labor can be more effective in organizing the organized and unorganized.” For further information, contact Ernesto Medrano at (714) 740-6246.