Watch out for Obama’s new attacks on immigrants!

Full rights for immigrant workers!

(The following two articles are from Detroit Workers' Voice #89, April 30, 2010)

The fight of immigrant workers for full rights deserves the support of workers of all nationalities. Immigrant workers who came here illegally aren’t the real criminals. The criminals are the capitalists who abuse them, and the immigration system that turns the immigrants into hunted prey, subject to deportations, jail and the worst working conditions. All workers must rally in defense of their immigrant sisters and brothers, for whenever one section of the workers is driven down, the conditions of the other workers will fall as well.

The right wing and Obama both attack immigrants

Today there are new attacks on immigrant workers. In Arizona, the Republicans recently pushed through a bill (SB1070) that would allow police to arrest anyone that they had “reasonable suspicion” to think was an illegal immigrant. In effect this would mean that any Latino would be considered “suspicious” along with anyone else the police decided to pick on. It’s pure racial profiling. Meanwhile, the Minutemen and other racist gangs continue to attack immigrant laborers.

Moreover, the attacks on immigrant workers come not only from the right-wing, but also from Democrats like Obama, who claim to be friends of the immigrant workers. The Obama administration has criticized SB1070, but it has its own anti-immigrant agenda. Under Obama, the number of people being deported is higher than under Bush (a record of 387,790 last year)! Moreover, Obama has extended Bush’s policy of enlisting local police into helping the federal immigration authorities (ICE) terrorize immigrants.

The Schumer-Graham immigration reform

Yet the Obama administration insists it’s the best friend to immigrants. And it claims the March immigration reform proposal of Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would be good for immigrants. The Schumer-Graham proposal is supposed to offer the millions of illegal immigrants a path to legalization. Hiding behind this facade, however, is a plan to delay legal­ization forever, to punish those who reveal themselves to the immigration authorities, and to step up police-state measures against immigrants.

This reform proposal boasts of its “border security and interior enforcement” measures. This means more militarization of the US-Mexican border, and more raids and deportations against immigrant workers. While Obama campaigned against raids tearing up immigrant families, this is exactly what he continues to do.

The proposal would also require all workers to carry a biometric Social Security card lest they be rounded up as illegals. This is not only meant to isolate illegal workers, but can be used by employers and the government to track militant legal workers.

The Schumer-Graham proposal pretends to allow a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country for a certain time. The relatively few immigrants with advanced degrees in technological fields from a US university are promised “green cards” providing them with legal status. But millions of other workers who have resided in the US for years would still be treated as criminals. They would have to admit they broke the law, perform community service, and pay fines and back taxes. They would have to pass background checks and be proficient in English. These are big obstacles for immigrants who are poor and lack sufficient schooling. Then they would have to “go to the back of the line” of prospective legal immigrants, and wait many years hoping to qualify.

Thus, the vast majority of undocumented workers would remain without rights for many years, and would still have the threat of deportation hanging over them. And it would be a huge risk for many immigrants here to step out of the shadows in hope of benefits under Schumer-Graham. But all this suits the capitalists. They love subjecting immigrant labor to semi-slave conditions. They benefit from the right-wing and the Democrats keeping the immigrants defenseless.

Full rights, now!

The immigrant communities are not taking this lying down. On March 21, about 200,000 people marched in Washington, DC for immigrant rights. This May Day, many pro-immigrant rights marches will take place.

These actions must build into a conscious and fighting mass movement that puts fear into the hearts of both parties in Washington and their capitalist masters.

But this won’t happen as long as the masses are kept in the dark about the anti-immigrant stand of so-called “friends” like Obama. Indeed, Democratic Party politicians, their apologists among certain immigrant rights groups, and the class-collaborationist union officials appear at immigrant rights rallies to win over the naive.

Workers and activists who understand the treachery of the Democrats and their hangers-on should expose these traitors during meetings and demos. And we must form groups that can operate independently of the capitalist parties, groups that can rally together all workers, whether legal or illegal, against the attacks of the capitalists. Our calls for immigration reform must not be based on what sort of plan helps the capitalists ensure that the immigrant labor they employ is denied of rights. It must be for full rights for undocumented workers, and for building a powerful movement side-by-side with them.

Stop Obama’s raids and deportations!

Full rights for all immigrant workers, now!

Support postal workers against job cuts, forced relocation, overwork, and reduction to five-day mail delivery!

Employers all over the country are using the recession to slash their workforce, overwork the remaining workers, and cut wages. Postal management is doing the same to postal workers across the country. In the last decade, 170,000 postal jobs have been lost. Now, during the recession, postal management wants to “excess” even more workers (cut more jobs), and also eliminate weekend mail delivery.

    That's why over a hundred postal workers took part in a picket in front of the Fort Street postal facility on March 31. That's why postal workers picketed in front of the Highland Park post office on Wednesday, April 14. And that's why supporters of the Detroit Workers' Voice leafleted in front of the Fort Street post office on Tax Day, April 15.

Postal workers are under attack

Through years of struggle postal workers have won some contractual guarantees against layoffs. But postal management is making a mockery of this by insisting that workers move at short notice to other facilities. Dozens of workers from the Fort Street facility are being moved, some of them to faraway cities, even Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or Des Moines, Iowa. They are given the ultimatum: either move, or lose your job. And once moved, workers may be asked to move a second time.

There is no concern about what this means for workers' lives and children, and many families are faced with both separation and possible financial ruin. Even when both spouses work for the post office, management thinks nothing of assigning jobs in different cities.
While claiming that there isn't enough work, they subject postal workers to overwork and speedup. At the Fort Street facility, they have removed job classifications from many workers, and assigned them to the "standby room". They then send the workers back to do the very jobs that supposedly don't exist, often assigning overtime as well.

Meanwhile, year after year, at local postal stations all across Detroit, they have extended the routes of letter carriers. And they have forced job combinations on postal clerks and mail handlers. Moreover, these job cuts and forced relocations aren't just taking place at one or two facilities, but all across the country. This is an attack on all postal workers.

As the work has intensified, the toll of injuries has grown. The post office is supposed to find suitable work for injured workers, but management has violated this contract provision as well. It has instituted the so-called “National Reassessment Program” to deny injured workers their jobs. Injured workers are suddenly told, "We no longer have any work available for you", as management tries to force them to quit.

Postal management acts like a private employer

Why is postal management doing this? Some people think that because the post office is a government agency, it doesn't act like a profit-mad capitalist company. But while the post office is a public service, it is run like a business. And today the capitalists and the different branches of government are united in forcing cutbacks on workers.

Thus the anti-worker campaign in the post office is part of a campaign to drive down the conditions of all workers. It goes hand-in-hand with the privatization drive. In the post office, as in auto and among Detroit city workers and teachers, subcontracting and privatization is used to take away jobs and cut the wages of the remaining workers.

Hence, just as the attack on the auto workers depressed wages for all workers, so the attack on postal workers hurts all workers. There are postal workers in towns and cities all across the country, and employers will take notice of what happens to them. In attacking us, postal management is serving the interests of CEOs and rich financiers everywhere.

The quality of mail service will decline

Nor does postal management care about the public. The anti-worker drive doesn't only mean eliminating jobs, but cutting service to the public. Management plans to close down many community postal stations across the country, and to deliver mail one less day a week, probably eliminating Saturday mail.

Postal work used to serve as a stabilizing factor for many communities. Removing postal stations and postal workers from our communities will have a negative impact on many working class communities. Just as the collapse of the auto factories and other industries has hurt working class neighborhoods, so will the down-sizing of the post office.

Rank-and-file workers, unite!

All over the country, postal workers are angry about what's going on. In the last few years, informational pickets have taken place from California to Pennsylvania, from Florida to Ohio, and even in Washington D.C. And now pickets and protest events have begun here in Detroit.

But the leadership of the postal unions (APWU, NPMHU and NALC) have sabotaged this campaign. While the American Postal Workers Union has called a number of pickets around the country, they have been sporadic and uncoordinated. Moreover, at the April 11th meeting of the APWU-Detroit District, it was announced that William Burrus, national president of the APWU, demands that the issue of job cuts and forced relocation be kept secret. Unfortunately, the local union officials agree with this. They insist that the union only talk about threats to the quality of postal service. And indeed, postal workers do care about providing good service to the public. But there's also the issue of job losses, forced relocation, and overwork.

So it's been up to rank-and-file postal workers to let people know about management's anti-worker campaign. And it's important for other workers to join with them in raising their voices against what's being done by postal management. Tell postal management that it's wrong to privatize the post office, to cut back on postal service, and to close community post offices. Let them know that it's wrong to treat postal workers like slaves who can be sold down the river to faraway plantations, or to overwork them in order to cut more jobs.

Public sector workers such as postal workers and teachers, and private sector workers, should unite. The defense of our jobs, our wages, our living conditions, and our public services is going to be a long. hard fight. It's necessary that we all stand together if we are to beat back the arrogant demands of the rich capitalists and the politicians who serve them.

Defeat postal management's anti-worker campaign!

Fight job cuts, forced relocation, and overwork!

Keep six-day mail delivery and community post offices! <>

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Last changed on May 6, 2010.