Unions' Support for Illegal Aliens Harms Workers; Working-Class Americans Already Disadvantaged

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Unions' Support for Illegal Aliens Harms Workers; Working-Class Americans Already Disadvantaged


Byline: Richard F. LaMountain, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Several weeks ago in my hometown of Portland, Ore., the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) held its quadrennial national convention. For 10 years, I belonged to the NPMHU, but in 2005, I resigned my membership.

The reason? The NPMHU affiliates with the AFL-CIO and the Laborers' International Union of North America, which aggressively promote - with NPMHU members' dues - the cause of illegal aliens. These federations have supported, for instance, President Obama's decision to suspend enforcement of immigration law against more than a million illegal-alien youths; his administration's lawsuit to overturn Arizona's S.B. 1070, which seeks to deter illegal immigration to that state; and a path to citizenship for millions of foreigners who intentionally have violated U.S. immigration laws.

This spring and summer, other large unions have held national conventions as well - among them the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The ILWU passed a resolution pledging to do all in its power to pass legislation benefiting undocumented students ... who came to the country as children. The SEIU promised to make the enactment of comprehensive immigration reform a top priority and to oppose anti-immigrant measures that go against our nation's highest values, including ... state and local enforcement of immigration laws.

The irony is that by championing illegal aliens, unions harm the working-class Americans they purport to represent. To understand why, let's first consider employment.

In July, 12.8 million Americans were officially unemployed. Simultaneously, about 8 million illegal aliens held U.S. jobs, the Federation for American Immigration Reform estimates.

Vernon M. Briggs Jr., professor emeritus of Cornell University, recently estimated that 80-plus percent of those illegal aliens possess a high school education or less. Most, then, compete for the kinds of jobs traditionally held by lower-skilled, less educated and less experienced Americans - the very class of Americans unions were created to serve.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, illegal aliens concentrate in fields such as building maintenance and groundskeeping, where they recently have made up 19 percent of the workforce; construction, where they have made up 17 percent; and food services, where they have made up 12 percent. Their prevalence in jobs like these has contributed materially to the unemployment rates of, among other Americans, blacks (14. …

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