|The UAW Community Action Program for 2005 includes the following position regarding
immigration and the rights of immigrant workers:
The UAW and our allies in the immigrant, ethnic, faith and civil rights communities are continuing the
campaign for reforms to our immigration system. We believe these reforms must guarantee all immigrant
workers full workplace rights, equal access to government programs and services, and the opportunity for
undocumented immigrants to adjust to permanent legal status.
Unfortunately, employers too often are able to force immigrant workers to work long hours for low pay and
no benefits in miserable working conditions. These unscrupulous employers then threaten to call the
Immigration and Naturalization Service and to get undocumented immigrant workers deported if they
complain and try to organize a union to correct these injustices. Regrettably, the Supreme Court has held
in the Hoffman Plastics case that immigrant workers are not entitled to the same workplace rights as
employees who are citizens.
In addition, immigrant workers are also denied basic government benefits and services that are available to
other workers, including unemployment insurance and other safety net programs. This ends up hurting
families, including millions of children. It is also unfair since immigrant workers pay taxes to support these
The current system of employer sanctions has failed to stop undocumented workers from coming to our
country. Instead, it has led to discrimination against minorities and greater exploitation of immigrant
workers. Instead of these counterproductive employer sanctions, our immigration system should provide
adequate opportunity for all immigrant workers who work in this country and pay taxes to support its
programs to adjust their status so they can become permanent residents and citizens. This is the best way
to stop the exploitation of undocumented immigrant workers, and to prevent unscrupulous employers from
using them to undermine the workplace rights of all U.S. workers.
International student workers face special problems. Although they contribute enormously to the intellectual
and cultural environment of educational institutions around the country, international student workers are
routinely exploited in the workplace, receiving low pay and few or no benefits. The recent wave of
organizing in higher education, led in part by international student workers, has made great improvements
in this area. But more progress needs to be made. In addition, in the wake of September 11th, international
student workers have been made the targets of unfair, misguided proposals and policies that discriminate
against and impose severe burdens on them.
The guest worker programs in this country have failed to ensure that international student workers and
other guest workers are paid equitably, have full worker rights, and can become permanent residents and
citizens. This has threatened to undermine workplace rights for all U.S. workers.
During the 109th Congress we must redouble our efforts to get Congress to pass genuine reforms to our
immigration system. At the same time, we must stand firm against hostile proposals that would deny full
rights and equal treatment to immigrant workers.
The UAW has a proud tradition of standing up for the rights of immigrant workers, both in the workplace
and in society. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to the struggles of immigrant workers for freedom,
equality and social justice.
* Urge Congress to pass legislation to provide full workplace rights for undocumented immigrant workers.
This includes reversing the Hoffman Plastics decision, as well as ensuring that all immigrant workers have
the right to organize and have whistle-blower protections.
* Tell Congress to provide increased protections for the rights of international student workers, and to
oppose any measures that would discriminate against or impose unfair burdens on them, including
proposals that would threaten their civil rights or civil liberties.
* Urge Congress to reform guest worker programs to ensure that international students and guest workers
maintain and expand their rights in the workplace, receive adequate and equal compensation, and have
the opportunity to become permanent residents and citizens.
* Urge Congress to make sure unemployment insurance and other government safety net programs are
available to all workers, including immigrants.
* Urge Congress to repeal the current employer sanctions system. In its place, Congress should establish a
mechanism whereby undocumented immigrant workers have the opportunity to adjust their status to
become permanent residents and citizens. Tell Congress this is the best way to ensure that the rights of all
workers are protected.