Thursday, July 06, 2006

MA Workers: Who's On YOUR Side?

I recently read portions of a letter from Massachusetts Jobs With Justice on the air, a letter to legislators asking them NOT to require Attorney General Tom Reilly to participate in any workplace enforcement of immigration laws. As regular Michael Graham listeners know, there are thousands of illegal immigrants at public works jobsites across Massachusetts, each one taking a job that could go to a taxpaying citizen of the Commonwealth.

Tom Reilly has no problem with illegals taking tax-funded jobs away from taxpayers. OK, maybe that makes sense in a shameless "pander to Hispanics for their votes in the Democratic primary" way. But what astonished me was reading a letter supporting this position from a group of UNION leaders.

Huh? I thought the job of a union was to protect its dues-paying members and promote the interests of labor. How is allowing immigration criminals to flood the labor market and reduce the price of labor a pro-union position?

During our discussion of this labor issue, I received several phone calls and emails claiming that the letter I quoted did not exist, or that I was somehow twisting its content. The kind folks at Massachusetts Jobs With Justice have done us the courtesy of posting the letter--and the names of the signatories--on their website.

Here are the portions I find most significant:

We strongly believe that requiring any role for the Massachusetts Attorney General in enforcement of federal immigration law will lead to increased exploitation of workers by unscrupulous employers and will severely undermine enforcement of the Commonwealth’s wage and hour laws....

It is also unrealistic to assume that the Attorney General’s office could effectively and efficiently monitor which employers might be hiring undocumented immigrants as proposed in budget amendment Outside Section 36G or other similar proposals. This could also lead to constant checking of documentation by employers and the proposed creation of a “hotline” to report employers would lead to discrimination and racial profiling of workers. For this reason, we urge you to eliminate Outside Section 36G from the final conference committee budget.

Don't check workers' documentation, don't help legitimate workers report violations, and don't enforce immigration laws that would keep illegals from undercutting local labor markets: This is how unions protect their workers? How about the fact that employer who hires an illegal is breaking federal and state law and is, by definition, participating in tax and identity fraud? How is this a pro-labor position?

If I were a member of one of the unions who signed this letter, that's the question I'd be asking.