Working for immigrant rights part of unions' agenda

by Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

September 12, 2013 

LOS ANGELES–The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) 
is holding their quadrennial convention in Los Angeles this week. The AFL-CIO has been vocal in the immigration reform debates and during the week-long convention, leaders have called on president Obama to halt the deportation of undocumented workers while congress takes up the bill. 

We are very engaged in immigration reform that’s mostly on the national level, though we’re also working on legislation in California too but this is an immigration issue too,” explained Art Pulaski of AFL-CIO California.

”This is a good thing happening that official labor unions are now embracing other excluded workers in the labor movement like domestic workers, like day labored. It’s going to make the labor movement stronger,” added Aqui Soriano Versoza of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

With a large population of caregivers, home helpers, and other domestic workers, one initiative the Filipino American community is spearheading that is backed by union leaders is California’s Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights. The legislation passed the California senate on Wednesday afternoon and would give caregivers like Lourdes Pablo equal work rights and ensure over time pay, and proper breaks. Pablo originally came to the US as a teacher but after being subjected to a difficult school environment, she decided to be a caregiver instead.  “It’s a decent job that supports my my family I work for 24 hours for live in sometimes 12 hours for live out as a caregiver I believe in the importance of love care and understanding while taking care of the consumers,” said an emotional Pablo. 

On a national level, the AFL-CIO continues to be active through  out the immigration reform debates, helping draft proposals to benefit both domestic and foreign norm workers. 

The Domestic Workers Bill of Rights now goes back to the state assembly for a final vote on the amendments next week. 

You may reach Steve Angeles at for more information.

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