AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka Supports Illegal Migrants Hired by Koch Foods’ Meat Packers

In this Feb. 1, 2016, photo, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka speaks during an interview w
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Union chief Richard Trumka is backing the illegal migrant workers who were hired by Koch Foods and other meat packers in Mississippi to displace Americans throughout the state.

“We condemn these raids in the strongest possible terms and pledge our full support to @UFCW and the working people of Mississippi as they work to win justice for all those who were unfairly targeted,” Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO, said via Twitter.

Trumka’s tweet linked his huge political switch to a Washington Post report that said that “many children didn’t have a loved one or family friend to go home to. Some walked home from school but were locked out because their parents were detained in the raid.”

Trumka’s three linked tweets do not distinguish between Americans — including legal immigrants — and the many cheap-labor migrants who cross the union of 50 state line at the U.S. border to accept jobs at wages far lower than the wages sought by Americans:

Media reports state that the seven slaughterhouses in six cities were using up to 680 illegal aliens instead of local Americans.

Some of the migrant employees were wearing ankle monitors, which are placed on released migrants by the Department of Homeland Security, according to federal court documents the state’s Clarion-Ledger newspaper reported.

The newspaper’s documents suggested the migrant meat cutters were being paid less than $27,000 a year:

[Ana Alonzo-Alonzo] told agents she was working under the assumed identity of Isabel Perez and was on the night shift. Her unit is responsible for processing chicken tenders. The Mississippi Department of Employment Security Employer’s Quarterly Wage Report showed the social security number for Isabel Perez was paid a total wage of $6,710.96 by Peco Foods in the 4th quarter of 2018, according to court documents.

She told agents she bought the assumed identity from a man at a laundromat in Forest. For a counterfeit identification card and a social security card, she paid $200, she reportedly said.

The newspaper also reported comments from one of the factory’s managers, Jun Lian, a shipping manager for PH Food:

Asked if the owners of PH Food knew about the legal status of their employees, Lian said the company isn’t involved with recruiting workers because another company helps it do that.

When questioned about the name of the other company, Lian said he doesn’t pay attention to these matters because it’s not part of his responsibility. He is in charge of inspecting chickens when they come into the plant, and when the meat is shipped out, he said.

“To me, it’s not logical that they’ve done this. What about (the immigrants’) families? They have to make a living, they have kids. Right?” Lian said in Mandarin. “They didn’t do anything bad, they just want to make money, raise their kids.”

The steady supply of foreign cheap labor has ensured that U.S. slaughterhouses have more injuries and fewer machines than the slaughterhouses in Europe or Japan, where  sophisticated machinery makes the expensive labor more productive:

Trumka’s alignment with the cheap-labor migrants and their employers marks a profound break from the history of Americans’ unions.

Unions have used their members’ solidarity within the walls of worksites to leverage higher wages from investors and CEOs.

In turn, investors and CEOs tried to flood workplaces with imported labor to drown the unions and push down wages. The meat packing industry successfully used that strategy to break their employees’ unions and to halve their wages during the 1980s.

This struggle over labor supply and wages explains why left-wing unions have supported a legal wall around the union of 50 states to prevent a flood of cheap foreign labor washing away workplace gains.

For example, Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor, declared in 1921:

Those who favor unrestricted immigration care nothing for the people. They are simply desirous of flooding the country with unskilled as well as skilled labor of other lands for the purpose of breaking down American [living] standards … Those who believe in unrestricted immigration want this country Chinaized.

Four years, later, Gompers and millions of voters pressured Congress to sharply reduce immigration into the United States. That 1924 reduction allowed a multi-decade rise in wages and salaries, which only ended after Congress passed the 1965 immigration law and President George H.W. Bush signed the Immigration Act of 1990. 

But with President Donald Trump is in the White House, the prosperous elites in the progressive side of the Democrat Party are increasingly showing their emotional alignment with foreign migrants, not with their fellow Americans:

That emotional alliance makes sense, in part, because many of the migrants take low-wage jobs as service workers for the progressive post-graduate class. They mind their children, iron their clothes, prepare their food, maintain their yards, and replace less friendly Americans in rental apartments a bus-ride distant.

This alliance for cheap labor is now so deep that left-wing Vox quoted the Wall Street Journal‘s editorial board on August 8 to argue for even more imported workers: 

Back in 2017, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board warned Trump that his restrictions on immigration could hurt the economy.

“If President Trump wants employers to produce and build more in America, the US will need to improve education and skills in manufacturing and IT. But the economy will also need more foreign workers, and better guest worker programs to bring them in legally,” the newspaper said in March 2017.

There’s no better time for working-class Americans to demand better wages, benefits, schedules, and work conditions. But it also means immigration reform is more urgent than ever. To fill all the open jobs and keep the economy growing, Trump and Congress will need to allow more low-skilled immigrants to work.

Immigration Numbers:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university. This total includes about 800,000 Americans who graduate with skilled degrees in business, health care, engineering, science, software, or statistics.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of approximately 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including about 1 million H-1B workers and spouses — and around 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth and returns for investors because it transfers wages to investors and ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations.

The cheap-labor economic strategy also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions.

The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.


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