Union leaders have been traveling the country pushing for
immigration reform, but one labor analyst says the union movement
has been very inconsistent on the issue.
The fourteen-city campaign began last Wednesday in
Raleigh, North Carolina, with events occurring Monday in Las
James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics for The Heritage
Foundation, says the movement for reform has been somewhat
confusing because of its inconsistency.
"The union movement has been very inconsistent and back and
forth on immigration reform," he says. "The reason for that is
because there are differences within the unions. Some of the
unions, like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), want
to organize a lot of the service workers who are in the sectors
that a lot of immigrants are in; and illegal immigrants just aren't
that interested in unionizing because they're afraid of coming out
of the shadows."
At the same time, Sherk says unions like the Teamsters and the
United Auto Workers have traditionally been hostile to any form of
immigration reform, in particular a guest-worker program because
they fear it could create competition for jobs.
"So the union movement has been back and forth and all over the
fence on this," he says. "Right now they're supportive, but in the
past they haven't been, and that's a function of the conflicts
within the union movement."
The new push does come after another decline in union
membership, with participation now at its lowest level in nearly a century.