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Sun Oct 28, 2012, 05:00 PM


Immigration is back up due to improving economy. First time since 2007.


And given that employers from the agricultural to factory manufacturing sectors are chomping at the bit to get this cheap, easy-to-abuse labor, it is obvious that Obama and our Democratic Congresspeople should take action in his second term. (And at this point I'm pretty much assured that he'll be here for 4 more years.)

First of all, a hard crackdown on employers who abuse workers. Unsafe workplaces such as Hormel's meat processing center in Austin, Minnesota, should not be allowed to exist. And farms can no longer be allowed to stay exempt from safety laws, either. There's no reason why anyone should be dying of heat stroke on the farm. We in California are fighting the good fight, but as you can imagine, we face serious opposition from farmers, and a horrible shortage of inspectors - 200 inspectors to check over 35,000 farms. Perhaps the reason they've been successful in obstructing this law is the rampant and BS scare stories of apples going up to $50 a bushel? Then we're our own worst enemy - we're addicted to cheap food at the cost of exploiting workers. Think on that for a second. We need a Federal, nationwide version of this law, and a budget to support enough inspectors to investigate every complaint within 3 days. President Obama, Democratic representatives in Congress, please put this on your second-term agenda.

Finally, employers have a long record of using immigrants to replace Union labor. For instance, this case which led to a raid in 2008. So in the long term this fight goes beyond Capitol Hill - as Democratic activists, we're going to have to pursue a state-by-state extermination of right-to-work laws so immigrants can unionize and fight back at unscrupulous businesses.

People say the Democratic Party isn't the party of the left. Well, we can at least be the party of the working class... can't we?

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