Why are Congress and the President taking up things like health care reform, education reform, and seeming to ignore all Rule of Law on public justice since the crash? THEY ARE ACTING AS IF TPP IS ALREADY LAW! But wait-----our pols are already shouting they weren't part of these negotiations and yet, in a neo-liberal state like Maryland the laws that come with TPP have been operating since the crash.
YOUR POL NOT ONLY KNOWS ABOUT TPP-----BUT HAS BEEN NEGOTIATING FOR BUSINESSES IN MARYLAND IN THESE DEALS.
How is the labor and justice situation below like the TPP and Immigration Bill passed by the Senate? Let's look what is happening.
TPP says any nation in this trade agreement must not allow its laws to effect a global corporation's ability to earn profit, so a labor law that protects an employee that will cost a global corporation money will not be enforced. Categorizing workers as independent contractors when they are just employees of a corporation is illegal but with TPP that global corporation will claim those US laws hinder its ability to earn profit.
THIS IS WHAT TPP DOES....ALLOWS ALL GLOBAL CORPORATIONS TO CIRCUMVENT ALL OTHER NATION'S CONSTITUTIONS AND LAWS.
Remember, the 1% now no longer look at the world as nations but markets and the TPP does that. The 1% in all of these countries signing on do not care that their Constitutions are usurped-----they are the ones with global corporations reaping profits from this treaty! So, Obama has signed on to this TPP with the knowledge he is working to end US sovereignty and that is a COUP against the US Constitution and American people. THIS IS SERIOUS STUFF FOLKS! This is why we did not received any public justice as all of our wealth was stolen through corporate fraud and it is why corporations are controlling all public policy-writing in Baltimore. Johns Hopkins is that global corporation thinking it has overthrown the US Constitution......but it hasn't.
THIS ENTIRE ACTION IS ILLEGAL AND A COUP AGAINST THE US CONSTITUTION AND CAN BE REVERSED AS SUCH. THE TREATY JUST NEEDS TO BE DEEMED ILLEGAL WHEN RULE OF LAW IS REINSTATED.....EASY PEASY!
JUST RUN AND VOTE FOR LABOR AND JUSTICE IN ALL PRIMARIES AND WE CAN REVERSE THIS!
So, these workers being exploited by a French corporation is an example of what is to come if TPP is enacted. You will notice that all of the infrastructure development that will come as a stimulus next year will involve these global corporations which bring in immigrant labor and tie them to these same kinds of contracts as has happened with these African immigrants tied to VEOLA through Super Shuttle at BWI. This is happening all over the country!
VEOLA brings these African immigrants to the US to work for their corporation with the idea that working in the US is a great thing and VOILA----these workers are calling themselves slaves-----and they are! That will happen on these infrastructure jobs as well. Notice every time an immigrant is brought to do these jobs a domestic worker is not employed and notice that these transportation jobs used to be public sector jobs with employees paid well and having good benefits! SEE WHY WE NEED TO FIGHT FOR STRONG PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS?
ALL OF MARYLAND'S PUBLIC WORKS ARE NOW BEING DONE WITH EXPLOITED IMMIGRANT LABOR OR PRISON LABOR. SOUND THIRD WORLD TO YOU?
The Immigration Bill passed by the neo-liberal Senate was never about justice for immigrants.....it was always about bringing these immigrants over with global corporations doing work in the US and allowing them to work. This is what is happening to these African workers and it is happening with our Hispanic workers as well. THINK THIS IS NOT COMING TO MIDDLE-CLASS WORKERS---this is what is happening in Johns Hopkins as office workers are now a victim of this same independent contractor scheme. After they get the same treatment as these Super Shuttle employees, the Hopkins' office workers are earning almost nothing as well.
THIS KIND OF EMPLOYMENT IS PERVASIVE IN MARYLAND AND ALL NEO-LIBERAL STATES. SO, IT IS NOT THE TEA PARTY THAT IS KILLING LABOR-----IT IS THE NEO-LIBERALS!
'The TPP foreign investor privileges would provide foreign firms greater "rights" than those afforded to domestic firms.
This includes a "right" to not have expectations frustrated by a change in government policy. Claiming such radical privileges, foreign corporations have launched cases against environmental, energy, consumer health, toxics, water, mining and other non-trade domestic policies that they allege undermine their "expected future profits."
Learn more: http://bit.ly/HRIWYp'
Why You Should Be Outraged About the TPP TRADE, 16 December 2013
by Luke Bacon - NewMatilda
Openness in negotiation is a key component of democratic politics. Without it, the public can’t make sound decisions. The anti-democratic nature of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
As governments and corporations push to finalise negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), people who support wide participation in policy development should increase the pressure for open discussion.
Relegating the TPP to a “special interest” issue for online activists is a success for secrecy. Opposition to the TPP is actually in the broader interest of individuals and organisations working in health, education, human rights, journalism, ecology, welfare, workers rights and other related areas.
Its stated goals are “economic integration” and increasing “market access” but the TPP deal covers far more than trade. There are sections on labour, the environment, e-commerce, intellectual property, foreign investment, financial services, telecommunications, Investor State Dispute Settlement and more. The treaty prescribes how member states will legislate in these areas.
Negotiations started in 2010 and there is pressure to finalise the text as soon as possible. The 2013 deadline was missed this week and negotiations have been extended into January.
Only a handful of representatives from each member state are allowed access to the negotiation text. No one else, not even elected representatives outside of the negotiation team, are allowed to know what’s on the table. The negotiations themselves are “off the record”, though roughly 700 lobbyists (“advisors“), mostly representing corporate interests, do have access.
Hundreds of thousands of people around the world have spoken out demanding public scrutiny of public policy, signing petitions and attending protests.
Last week, Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson successfully passed a motion requesting the final treaty text be made available to the public “well before it is signed.” Since then, the Senate’s request has been refused by the Coalition who say its release would “damage Australia’s standing”.
Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz made a damning assessment of secrecy in democracies for his 1999 Oxford Amnesty Lecture:
“Meaningful participation in democratic processes requires informed participants. Secrecy reduces the information available to the citizenry, hobbling their ability to participate meaningfully… voters have to be informed: they have to know what alternative actions were available, and what the results might have been.”
As far as the TPP is concerned, US trade representative Ron Kirk says secrecy from the public is needed to “preserve negotiating strength and to encourage our partners to be willing to put issues on the table they may not otherwise”.
Stiglitz addresses this position:
“The argument that public discussions — including discussions of uncertainties and mistakes — will undermine the authority of public institutions is one of the most corrosive of democratic processes. It is akin to the kinds of arguments that authoritarian regimes conventionally use. I would argue, on the contrary, that were governments to deal honestly with their citizenry, confidence in government and public institutions would increase, not decrease.”
Unfortunately, in our society, arguments for secrecy are commonplace. Immigration and asylum seeker policy, locked down under Operation Sovereign Borders, is just the most recent example of a situation where basic information must be smuggled out, so the public can see the detail of policies enacted on their behalf.
Another common defence of the TPP’s secrecy is that “this is just the usual process for trade agreements” and that negotiators are conducting private consultations, in which affected stakeholders (public interest advocates in addition to the lobbyists) can voice concerns.
Instead, as Stiglitz says, the real effect is that “the quality of decision making is thereby weakened… With more mistakes, public officials become more defensive; to protect themselves, they seek even more secrecy, narrowing in the circle still further, eroding still further the quality of decision-making.”
Public Health Lecturer Deborah Gleeson points out that, “since those being consulted don’t have much information about what’s in the agreement and aren’t permitted to view the text, meaningful input is difficult. Indeed, it’s farcical to be consulted about the details of text you haven’t seen!”
On 6 December Stiglitz published an open letter to TPP negotiators criticising the secretive nature of the negotiations, he warned that “The TPP proposes to freeze into a binding trade agreement many of the worst features of the worst laws in the TPP countries, making needed reforms extremely difficult if not impossible.”
On 13 November Wikileaks published the Intellectual Property (Rights) Chapter of the agreement, this is the secret draft negotiation text with annotations for the positions of nations on individual clauses. For the first time, we can see what is on the table and the stance our representatives are taking.
The leaked negotiation text includes clauses to expand the scope of patents to cover medical procedures, force your ISP to police your internet usage, and increase opportunities for multi-nationals to sue governments through investor-state dispute settlements. This is just the intellectual property chapter — the rest of the agreement remains in the dark.
Since the leak, Australia’s Trade Minister Andrew Robb has said “the Government will not permit any outcome in its trade negotiations which undermines the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme or Australia’s health system more generally.” However, regardless of Robb’s claims, Australia will be held to the ratified text of the TPP and in its current form it would raise the price of medicine by slowing the process to generic manufacturing.
In these negotiations — where the biggest economy in the world is playing hard-ball —how does it help our bargaining power for all negotiations to be secret? If you were really concerned with the public interest, wouldn’t you want the public there to back you up?
It proves the vital relevance of people like Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeremy Hammond, and of Wikileaks, that the only way we could discover the deals being made on our behalf is by concerned people on the inside passing us information.
Many are already speaking out against the contempt for participatory democracy visible in the TPP negotiations. Doctors Without Borders have long recognised the effect the TPP will have on the lives of people they work with. A new website has launched with suggestions for what you can do.
Everybody has a role in opposing this attack on the public interest — even something small broadens the group involved. Support whistleblowers who risk everything so that we can know what’s going on; demand a say in the direction our laws drive us. Already the public outcry has prompted someone brave on the inside to pass out the crucial draft chapter.
Regarding ending slavery in Maryland/US:
Below you see a very important labor action you will of course not hear about on main stream media but it is significant because Hispanic language media, always there to coverage labor and justice events, is helping our local justice organizations to get the word out about the state of the state of Maryland to Hispanic families across the country. I have spoken about the Hispanic immigrants having their wages stolen and workplace abuses openly by private contractors denying immigrants the labor rights that are Constitutional rights in America. I have spoken of corporations like Johns Hopkins using Temporary Services illegally categorizing their employees as independent contractors, exploiting and stealing their wages and leaving these employees impoverished. As you read below remember this.....this describes what neo-liberals are doing in Congress with the Immigration Reform bill. These immigrants are being recruited by French VEOLA to come and work in America and as we see to be exploited labor. This immigration policy is not good.....it is very, very, very, bad and all Maryland pols backing this Immigration Bill this treatment of labor!
DO YOU HEAR ANY MARYLAND POLS SHOUTING OUT AGAINST THIS ABUSE? YET, THEY SAY THEY ARE PROGRESSIVE BECAUSE THEY ALLOW IMMIGRANTS TO COME TO MARYLAND-------TO BE EXPLOITED!
REMEMBER, ALL OF THIS IS ILLEGAL.....LAWS ARE BEING BROKEN AND STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL GANSLER, THE HEAD OF THE DLLR, Leonard J Howie, III. ASK THESE TWO MEN AND YOUR INCUMBENT NEO-LIBERAL WHERE RULE OF LAW IN MARYLAND WENT!!!!
Super Shuttle employee:
'I need more help to speak out and let the whole world know slavery is still practiced in USA today by a company called super shuttle owned by France multibillion dolars called Veolia'.
Hispan Tv Coverage.
EEUU: protestan contra la esclavitud moderna
Trabajadores de una empresa que brinda servicios en los aeropuertos de EE.UU. denuncian prácticas de "esclavitud moderna" por parte de la corporación VEOLIA....
VEOLA is known worldwide for exploitation and labor abuse so why is Governor O'Malley and the Maryland General Assembly and Baltimore City Hall handing them all of our public transportation system? THESE POLS LOVE TO EXPLOIT MARYLAND CITIZENS!
Many of these BWI Super Shuttle employees are African immigrants------OH, THAT'S RIGHT, THEY ARE INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS----and must pay $35,000 in initial operating fees payable over ten years at 15% interest. Remember, they are being told this is a business they can grow just as a McDonald's franchise when in fact they are simply employees of Super Shuttle owned by VEOLA. So, each driver is paying operating expenses, airport fees, dispatch fees, insurance fees to VEOLA owned Super Shuttle. Additionally, they are paying lease payments and franchise fees TOTALING $1,200 - 2,100 EACH WEEK. The employees are paying the cost of VEOLA being in business at the BWI AIRPORT. On top of that, O'Malley and the General Assembly and Baltimore City Hall buy many of VEOLA's vehicles with taxpayer money pretending these deals are public private partnerships.
As you see below VEOLA is being used across the nation to privatize public transportation and bust public sector unions and they do it in mostly neo-liberal states like Maryland. Labor unions are organizing and we thank the local UFCW for taking up this effort on behalf of BWI Super Shuttle employees! Denver Super Shuttle employees have CWA fighting this battle and Boston labor union CWA sends their support below.
Airport Super Shuttle Drivers Join CWA after 2-Year Battle
Oct 27, 2011
After a two-year fight for a union, Super Shuttle drivers at Denver International Airport voted overwhelmingly last week for CWA representation.(*)
Overcoming two years of hostility, harassment and coercion, 94 Super Shuttle drivers at Denver International Airport finally got the chance last week to vote for a union. In a resounding victory, they voted 77-4 for representation with CWA Local 7777, which also represents 300 Union Taxi drivers at DIA.(*)
The mostly African immigrant group filed their original petition for a union election in December 2009. Attempting to frighten its drivers and derail the vote, Super Shuttle management claimed the workers were independent contractors and therefore ineligible, terminated a driver on the organizing committee, and committed numerous other unfair labor practices.(*)
BWI Super Shuttle van drivers ‘fired’ for speaking out about working conditions
By Bill Hughes · December 22, 2013
Activists came out Saturday to support the BWI super shuttle van drivers, who some claim they have been fired for speaking out about poor wages and working conditions.
The drivers are “low wage workers – making minumum wages after working 18 and even 24 hours a day,” according to a statement put out from Workers Assembly.
Veolia, international corporation, (which operates at other airports on the East coast), is not treating the employees “fairly,” Workers Assembly said.
To learn more about why the activists and the workers staged a “Caravan for Justice,” at the site of the rally, and through BWI, go to their Facebook page.
Speaking on camera: Sean Collins, Sharon Black, Amy Millard
Support from Boston School Bus Driver USW Local 9751
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=745169772178681&set=vb.100000569962368&&theaterSupport from Boston School Bus Driver USW Local 9751 https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=745169772178681&set=vb.100000569962368&&theater
Denver CWA prevailed in seven ULPs it filed against management, with the NLRB eventually directing the election. It further ordered Super Shuttle to refund the drivers $65,000 in franchising fees, which the company had collected as retaliation for their union activities.(*)
District 7 Organizing Coordinator Al Kogler said Local 7777 organizer Abdi Buni, a former Union Taxi driver at DIA, did an "incredible job" of holding the Super Shuttle drivers together, and local President Lisa Bolton provided critical support.(*)
Remember Obama appointed Maryland's DLLR from Maryland Tom Perez to National Labor Department? See why? Neo-liberals need people in positions of accountability who allow all kinds of lying, cheating, and stealing to occur and when Rule of Law is reinstated, who will be charged with Aiding and Abetting these crimes? These black and Hispanic leaders. This is why they have these jobs right now......they are the fall guys.
We all understand that it is people of color overwhelmingly feeling this abuse but as the middle class has been gutted by these massive corporate frauds everyone is now the target of abuse.
We want to shout loudly to Mr Howie and Doug Gansler that they need to do their jobs as the face of PUBLIC JUSTICE and enforce labor law and US Constitutional protections.
DO YOU HEAR YOUR DEMOCRATIC POL SHOUTING OUT AGAINST THIS----IT IS THE DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM YOU KNOW! IF NOT, YOU HAVE A NEO-LIBERAL RUNNING AS A DEMOCRAT!
LEONARD J. HOWIE III, Esq., Secretary of Labor, Licensing, & Regulation
Proposed, Emergency & Final Regulations
Occupational & Professional Licensing
Labor & Industry
Workforce Development & Adult Learning
Governor's Workforce Investment Board
Maryland Workforce Exchange
Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler
About the Office of the Maryland Attorney General
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
The Attorney General is the chief legal officer of the State. The Attorney General's Office has general charge, supervision and direction of the legal business of the State, acting as legal advisors and representatives of the major departments, various boards, commissions, officials and institutions of State Government. The Office further represents the State in all cases pending in the Appellate Courts of the State, and in the U.S. Supreme Court and lower Federal Courts.
PLEASE KNOW THAT FLOODING THE US LABOR MARKET WITH IMMIGRANTS AND NO ENFORCEMENT OF LABOR AND JUSTICE PROTECTIONS IS AS BAD FOR IMMIGRANTS AS IT IS DOMESTIC LABOR. THIS IS NOT A 'I HATE IMMIGRANTS STANCE' AS PROGRESSIVE WORRY-----WE WANT IMMIGRANT WORKERS PROTECTED NOW!
These laws are written in such a way that these immigrants like the Super Shuttle workers would have to stay employed consistently or be exported. Well, look at what they are now exposed to. These Shuttle drivers would lose their ability for citizenship by speaking out and risking getting fired.....which is the point of how these laws are written. It traps immigrants into abusive situations like these at Super Shuttle.
IT IS NOT PROGRESSIVE TO ALLOW THESE BILLS TO PASS WHEN ALL PUBLIC JUSTICE IS SUSPENDED.
We do not want to deny any immigrant the right to a better life, but as the current situation shows, neo-liberals do not intend to give immigrants a better life. As progressives we need to rebuild our Rule of Law and democratic structures, ESPECIALLY THOSE PROTECTING IMMIGRANT WORKERS and wait until we can have a CITIZENSHIP NOW VOTE IN CONGRESS. Remember, the goal with neo-liberals and neo-cons is to create a workforce in the US like they had in Asia....that is the only goal.
IMMIGRATION JUNE 27, 2013
Why Liberals Should Oppose the Immigration Bill It's about low-wage American workers BY T.A. FRANK New Republic
The consensus among decent people in favor of the immigration bill making its way through Congress is so firm that expressing dissent feels a bit like taking the floor to suggest we chop down the Redwood National Park. People don’t want to hear it, and they also think you’re a nut. That makes this article one of the hardest I’ve ever had to write. It’s not that I’m afraid people will get angry; it’s that I can’t imagine anyone on my side (liberal) is open to persuasion. And, despite the vastness and complexity of the issue, I have to be brief: the Senate hopes to be done with things this week.
Sometimes, though, you just have to embrace futility.
The country I want for myself and future Americans is one that’s prosperous, cohesive, harmonious, wealthy in land and resources per capita, nurturing of its skilled citizens, and, most important, protective of its unskilled citizens, who deserve as much any other Americans to live in dignity. This bill threatens to put all of that out of reach, because it fails to control illegal immigration. The problem is not that it provides 11 million people eventual amnesty (I don’t object to that, in theory); the problem is that it sets in motion the next waves of millions.
High levels of low-skill immigration are good for wealthy Americans and bad for poor Americans.
That is not a fashionable concern, of course. Worrying about illegal immigration today is a lot like worrying about communists in government in 1950. It’s not that the problem isn’t legitimate or serious (there actually were, we now know, a lot of Moscow loyalists working for the U.S. government). It’s that expressing your concurrence links you to a lot of demagogues and bad actors.
Most of America’s college-educated elites are little affected by illegal immigration. In fact, it’s often a benefit to us in terms of childcare, household help, dinners out, and other staples of upper-middle-class life. Many therefore view the problem as akin, in severity, to marijuana use—common but benign, helpful to the immigrants and minimal in its effects on Americans or anyone else. I know, because it used to be my own view.
There’s no short way to argue why I was misguided or explain how my views evolved. Oddly enough, an early important realization came to me in Hong Kong during the SARS crisis of 2003. I thought about how Hong Kong had created a flawed but remarkable city in which even low-skilled laborers such as these men and women, who were wearing masks and wiping down railings, lived far better than similar laborers on the other side of the border. I also realized that only a wall (and I didn’t much like walls) prevented millions of people on the People’s Republic of China side of the border from coming over to take these lowly jobs for a fraction of the current wage. (Hong Kong had no minimum wage at the time.) I knew I wouldn’t want these unskilled street cleaners to lose their adequate standard of living to such unbridled competition.
But if that was how I felt about protecting Hong Kong’s working class, why shouldn’t I feel that way about America’s?
Worldviews evolve slowly, of course. I read a lot research and studies. I familiarized myself with more of the literature: both immigration-skeptical work by people like Harvard’s George J. Borjas and Cornell’s Vernon Briggs and immigration-boosterish work by people like U.C. Berkeley’s David Card and U.C. Davis’s Giovanni Peri, to name a few. I read lots blogs and news stories. I started reporting on California and wrote articles that concerned immigration. I came to believe that the boosters had many more vulnerabilities and flaws in their arguments than the skeptics. I found the theories of people like UCLA’s Ruth Milkman—who posits, for example, that illegal immigration had little to do with the decline of wages and working conditions in Los Angeles’s trucking, garment, and janitorial industries because “de-unionization…provokes native-born workers to abandon no-longer-desirable jobs, at which point immigrants then fill the vacancies”—to be unpersuasive.
I also noticed that a lot of immigration-boosterish studies—most of them, I’d say—contain telling caveats that undermine their case. For instance, buried on page 20 in Appendix Two” of this pro-legalization report touted by the Center For American Progress—trumpeted in a press release with the headline “How Immigration Reform Would Help the Economy”—is an estimate that if half of the current unauthorized labor force were deported the wage of a low-skill U.S. worker would rise by $399 a year. By contrast, legalization would raise that worker’s wage by less than half that much—and that’s assuming no further illegal immigration.
All in all, I became convinced that high levels of low-skill immigration are good for wealthy Americans and bad for poor Americans. Far more important, high levels of illegal immigration—when you start to get into the millions, as we have--undermines unions and labor standards, lowers wages, heightens social tensions, strains state budgets, widens income inequality, subverts the rule of law, and exacerbates class divides. The effects go far beyond wages, because few undocumented workers earn enough to cover anything close to the cost of government services (such as education for their children) they require, and those services are most important to low-income Americans. In short, it’s an immense blow to America’s working class and poor.
Most labor unions support the current legislation, of course, but few of them seem to acknowledge the possibility of a mass influx of a future illegal workforce. In part, that’s because the SEIU and many other unions have thousands of undocumented members, and raising a fuss about enforcement or opposing the current bill would alienate their own members. It’s probably also that they believe, unrealistically, that the bill would be effective at controlling the border in the future.
And a lot of Democrats have also convinced themselves that even if there’s a wage loss to low-skilled workers, the massive new voting bloc of mostly left-leaning immigrants will ultimately help the little guy. But if millions of new Democratic voters oppose strict immigration control, then there will no Democratic support for meaningful immigration control. And generous social benefits cannot coexist with an open border. (Nor can a more egalitarian society.)
I know that unauthorized immigrants are for the most part good, decent people. Deploring illegal immigration is not a condemnation of the immigrants themselves, anymore than deploring traffic is a condemnation of drivers. The rhetoric about hard workers trying to support their families is true, and in a perfect world we could invite everyone in without any tradeoffs. But the United States cannot take in millions upon millions of impoverished workers and hope to provide its own low-income citizens with lives of dignity or economic security.
Most of the enthusiastic endorsements I’ve read of the current Senate bill seem to assume that the problem of illegal immigration will be solved once the legislation is passed. (Chuck Schumer recently promised on the Senate floor, “illegal immigration will be a thing of the past,” a remarkable performance even by Schumer standards.) But the Congressional Budget Office projects no such thing. It sees only a 25 percent reduction in current levels.
That’s because, for all the ambitious measures listed on paper, the current bill grants near-immediate legalization in exchange for future enforcement. That deal is okay, except that failure to enforce the law in the future would not lead to loss of legal status. In fact, the only penalty I can detect in the bill is that failure to secure the border in five years would lead to the creation of a “Border Commission” with the power to—make recommendations. (If you care to see Marco Rubio’s defense of it, you can read it here and see if you’re convinced.) It is a large-scale replay of what we tried in 1986, when legalization was followed by lax enforcement and a much larger wave of unlawful migration. Enforcement capacity must be demonstrated before legalization is made permanent.
Enforcement of immigration law is not all that hard. Illegal immigration can never be reduced to zero, of course, but it can be brought down to levels that we had in the 1950s and 1960s, and with very little outright force. There are plenty of means: enhanced fencing and patrolling at the southern border, E-Verify for all hiring, strict penalties for employers who hire illegally, a biometric entry/exit system, and punishment (and deportation) for entering the country illegally. Ron Unz of The American Conservative has proposed that a $12-an-hour minimum wage plus strict sanctions would greatly reduce the magnet of sweatshop employment. None of these methods could work singly, but used in concert they would bring illegal immigration down to negligible levels. An analogy might be made to crime in Manhattan: it will never go to zero, but the rate has become so low as to cease to be alarming.
The trouble has always been political will. Every interest group has an argument against one enforcement mechanism or the other. Farmers and small businesses and the SEIU oppose E-Verify as a “job killer;” the ACLU contends it has “enormous privacy and security risks.” Environmentalists oppose a border fence because of migrating wildlife, and the 2006 Secure Fence Act never led to completion on the ground. Employer sanctions are unpopular with employers, who often are political donors and “job creators,” and plans in 1986 to start levying them never came to proper fruition. The biometric entry/exit system is “too expensive.” So we’ve historically compromised and done none of the above. That’s why all the “tough” measures being put into the current bill are simultaneously overblown and unserious. The Senate just voted to spend almost $40 billion on securing the southern border, when almost half of unauthorized immigrants are visa over-stayers. So why not spend a mere $5 billion to help roll out E-Verify? Or $25 billion to implement a biometric entry/exit system?
Now politicians also seem to have become frightened of potential new voters. Calls to enforce the law, they fear, have come to be seen as anti-immigrant or xenophobic. If that’s the state of affairs now, what is it likely to be when 11 million new beneficiaries of lax border enforcement and their families and descendants become voters? This is why the New York Times editorial page, back in 2000, when it was more cold-eyed on the subject, warned, “Illegal immigration of unskilled workers induced by another amnesty would make matters worse.”
If we intend to offer amnesty, however, we should at the very least place the burden of proof on those proposing to fix the problem. The way to do it is not by granting “provisional legal status” that can’t be revoked but, rather, by granting to all of today’s unauthorized immigrants what Obama has granted to those who were brought here as children: deferred action. Create a window of time—five or ten years—during which to implement all the current proposed border enforcement measures without any existing (non-criminal) residents having to fear penalties or deportation. It would be a time-limited period of legalization equivalent to a temporary visa. If future illegal immigration is reduced to set agreed-upon levels (50,000 a year should be the high end), then Congress could vote to upgrade “deferred” immigrants to permanent legalization and allow them to commence a path to citizenship. If not, then they would revert to their present unauthorized status. There must be measurable benchmarks of results rather than absurd outlays, and genuine consequences must be attached to them.
Certainly, many people would resist this plan, but if so that is precisely because they know—or at least strongly suspect—that the enforcement measures in the current legislation are meaningless. So let’s make them meaningful instead.
If I have a plea to my fellow liberals more broadly, it’s that they focus more of their empathy on fellow Americans being left behind. Because we increasingly live in bubbles, many of us are at best only abstractly aware of how cruelly circumstances of unskilled Americans have deteriorated over the past few decades. Even as these Americans have lost their well-paid manufacturing jobs, Washington has looked the other way while millions of low-skilled unauthorized immigrants have competed with them for low-skilled service jobs. The insouciance of privileged Americans toward the effects of this on life among less-privileged Americans is, in my view, a betrayal of citizenship.
If we are to have any hope of regaining any control over our own immigration policy—which is to say, our destiny as a nation—then we must ensure that everyone has an incentive to follow the laws on who gets to be here and who does not. Otherwise, we will shred the few remaining safety nets we have, and the dream of dignity for all American citizens will slip farther and farther, perhaps permanently, out of reach. No matter how magnificently Chuck Schumer claims the contrary.
T.A. Frank, a frequent contributor to The New Republic, is a writer and editor in Los Angeles.
Here is some good union news.....these contracts will allow for a real Living Wage for casino workers! TPP WILL NOT ALLOW THIS! What will happen with TPP is this casino will be sold to a global corporation that then claims these wages cut profits.
Living Wage Ruling Gives Queens Casino Workers a Fighting Chance
Robert Stolarik for The New York Times
Sandra Charles, a security officer at the Resorts World Casino in Queens, had her salary double after a labor arbitrator ruled that the casino management had to pay workers a living wage.
By RACHEL L. SWARNS Published: December 22, 2013
For the fast-food workers who demonstrated across the country this month, it is only a dream. For many economists and policy makers, it is the subject of intense debate. But there is nothing hypothetical about the living wage for Sandra Charles, a security officer and single mother. For her, it is real, tangible and gloriously life-changing.
In October, Ms. Charles and 1,374 of her colleagues at the Resorts World Casino in Queens took an unexpected leap toward the middle class when a labor arbitrator ordered the casino management to pay them a living wage, issuing a ruling that doubled their average paychecks.
Overnight, the average annual salaries of the cooks, parking attendants, slot machine workers, security guards and other low-wage staff members shot up from about $20,000 to nearly $40,000. By 2016, according to the new three-year contract signed by the casino management and the workers’ union, most employees at Resorts World will earn $60,000 a year.
You heard that right: Sixty thousand dollars a year.
In a city that boasts of its appeal to billionaires, this might not sound like much. But for the hundreds of casino workers, many of whom had relied on food stamps and second and third jobs to get by, it is nothing short of staggering. Ms. Charles still weeps when she describes how her life has changed. For her, this is a season of miracles.
“This gives us a breakthrough that no one ever dreamt of,” said Ms. Charles, 47, who no longer spends sleepless nights worrying about paying rent.
Her oldest daughter, who had dropped out of college to work, plans to enroll in classes come January. Her youngest daughter, whose prescription for eyeglasses expired nine months ago, has a brand new pair.
In the spring, Ms. Charles plans to move with her girls into a two-bedroom apartment. For the first time, she says, she will sleep in her own bedroom, not on the couch. “I can pay my bills,” she marveled. “I can save. I can take care of my kids.”
The push for a living wage has gathered steam as some unions, states and municipalities move to help struggling workers. But of the more than 130 localities that have approved living wage laws, precious few have increased salaries so drastically, said Stephanie Luce, an associate professor of labor studies at the City University of New York, who testified on behalf of the union in the arbitration hearing.
New York City’s living wage law, for instance, requires companies that receive $1 million or more in city subsidies to pay at least $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without benefits. The casino workers, by contrast, now earn on average $20.50 an hour, plus benefits. Few campaigners are pushing for that level of pay, given concerns among some city officials and company executives about the cost of higher wages.
But Resorts World, which has been spectacularly successful, did not dispute its ability to pay the salaries sought by the union, the Hotel Trades Council. The casino, which opened two years ago in southeastern Queens, attracts 35,000 visitors a day. It posted revenues of $696.5 million in the year ended in March and its electronic slot machines averaged $432 each a day in September, considerably more than slot machines in Atlantic City, Connecticut or Las Vegas.
The contract between the casino and union went to arbitration when the two sides reached an impasse on wages and other issues. The accord is certainly singular. But it shows how a real living wage — one that allows workers to support themselves and their families without government assistance — can transform lives.
Taliea Holmes, 26, who works the slot machines and racked up thousands of dollars in debt after surgery to remove gall stones, can go to the doctor without going broke now that she has health benefits.
Craig Caras, a 42-year-old parking attendant, won’t have to moonlight as a bus driver anymore. He plans to rent a flute so his daughter can finally play an instrument at school.
Given the high cost of living in New York City, many employees will still be categorized as near poor, particularly during the first year of the agreement.
“It’s not making you rich,” Mr. Caras said. “It’s just giving you a fighting chance.”
It is also giving the Charles family a holiday like no other. In the past, the only presents under the Christmas tree have come from relatives. This year, there are gifts from Ms. Charles under the evergreen, which glimmers with stars and angels.
“When you go into the living room,” Ms. Charles said, “you feel that it’s Christmas.”