Worker protections, a road map to citizenship, family unification...these are the priorities of union members and working families this week as the Senate Judiciary Committee continues its markup of the immigration reform bill.
The U.S. Senate is in the midst of debating the long-awaited comprehensive immigration bill to address the plight of millions of workers in the United States who need resolution to finding them a path to citizenship. Republicans in Congress have been warned by some in their leadership that the Republican Party must be on the right side of history on this bill and help it pass. This sentiment is a light in recent public debates where the Republican Party has preferred the darkness of saying no to progress on America’s journey, like voting rights and workers’ rights.
The ink has barely dried on new rules to protect working people from predatory mortgage lenders and the big bankers’ friends in Congress are already making moves to try to roll back protections. Tomorrow, a House hearing is scheduled to consider proposals to roll back protections against predatory mortgages.
To protect consumers from the types of predatory lending that led to the housing crisis, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 included the commonsense requirement that mortgage lenders consider a borrower’s ability to repay when issuing a mortgage.
In a 7-2 ruling and a major victory for voting rights advocates, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday struck down an Arizona law that required people attempting to register to vote in the state to provide proof of citizenship. The court ruled the additional requirement, not required under federal law, was an overreach by the state. States cannot add extra voter requirements that go beyond federal law. The 1993 "motor voter" law was passed in order to simplify voter registration and only requires that potential voters state that they are citizens, under penalty of perjury, but doesn't require additional proof of citizenship. The majority opinion was written by Antonin Scalia, who said that federal law "forbids states to demand that an applicant submit additional information beyond that required by the federal form." The dissenting votes were from Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka released the following statement this morning on creating a commonsense immigration process:
Working people, including the 12 million members of the AFL-CIO, would like to remind our elected leaders why there is no higher legislative priority than immigration reform, which must include a certain and inclusive path to citizenship and respect the rights of America’s workers.
This is how hope turns into despair. More than a year since they voted to form a union, Panera workers in Michigan are still waiting. The franchisee that owns the Panera Bread stores in the region refused to recognize the BCTGM as the official representative of the bakers and refused to meet to bargain a first contract.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Panera broke the law by refusing to bargain, and ordered the company to bargain with the bakers. But the company appealed that ruling to the D.C. Circuit Court, which has put the case on hold because of another ruling about President Obama’s three recess appointments to the NLRB. So the workers are still waiting for justice.
On the first full day of the immigration reform debate in the U.S. Senate, more than 50 advocates and allies of working families flew to Washington, D.C., to ask members of Congress to support a common sense immigration process that respects workers' rights and includes a road map to citizenship. Community leaders from nearly half the states in the union were in Washington to act as citizen lobbyists. Meanwhile, labor activists in numerous other states visited the offices of members of Congress in their home district to rally support for the bill.