If you are organizing workers in California, it’s likely you are organizing immigrant workers. It’s also very likely the employer has threatened to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement when the workers begin to assert their rights and talk about forming a union. Employers too often use the threat of deportation as a form of intimidation, harassment and retaliation against workers and their families. Nothing chills an organizing drive quicker than the threat of calling ICE; it can separate workers from their children, parents and spouses.
In 2004, after a long string of Republican governors and the shockingly narrow defeat of Prop. 72—which would have ushered in the most progressive health care reform ever implemented in the United States—California labor leaders got mad. And then they got organized.
Most of us don’t know what happens to our recycling after we take it to the curb each week.
On Feb. 2, hundreds of recycling workers and community supporters gathered in Oakland, Calif., at the Recycling Workers Convention to discuss a wide range of serious problems plaguing Alameda County’s recycling industry with an audience of elected officials and policy makers who oversee this supposedly “green” industry.
I spent so much time on picket lines as a kid that when I thought my dad’s rules were too strict, I would run to build a sign on a stick and try to talk the neighbor kids into marching around the house with me. I learned early on the power of a picket to protest unfair treatment.