Photo By: 
Melaney Wolf

Unions Stand with Immigrants

As Trump's ban on Muslims rip nation apart, organized labor holds it together

Brian Young's picture
Jan 30, 2017

Hours after Trump issued an Executive Order banning Muslims from 7 nations and refugees from entering the country, advocates, activists and unions mobilized thousands of people to protest at International Airports around the country.

As lawyers began mobilizing to file legal briefs and appeal the order before judges, activists took the streets to protest the order.  At New York’s JFK Terminal 4 crowds swelled into the thousands.  The organic protest drew activist from local unions including the United Federation of Teachers, the New York Taxi Worker Alliance and Service Employee International Union 32 BJ who represent many of the workers at the airport.  As the protests progressed, the Taxi Worker Alliance issued a press release saying that their members would be holding a one hour strike from 6-7 PM so that they could attend the protest. The 19,000 member strong union, whose membership is predominantly Muslim, said in a statement that the union movement is rooted in defense of the oppressed and that is why they are taking action.

 On Sunday, even more union members joined the cause as tens of thousands met at Battery Park in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty to protest the order. The rally which was put on by immigrants’ rights groups, as well as SEIU 32 BJ and the Teamsters, saw union members from all sides of the movement. Many members of the more conservative Building Trades joined the rally.  In an interview with the New York Daily News, Mike McGuire, Political Director for the Mason Tenders District Council 9 said "Our union and many other trade and constructions unions were founded by immigrants who couldn't get any other jobs - they weren't welcome in other trades. Many of the city's construction workers are immigrants and our attitude has always been that it's better to welcome them in than try to keep people out.” A spokesperson for Local 32 BJ also spoke at the rally saying that the joined the fight because one of their members, a Muslim women at JFK was attacked last week at the airport for wearing a hijab.

Union support wasn’t only strong in New York.  In Boston, thousands joined the Mayor and former Building Trades President Marty Walsh to protest the ban.  As UCOMM previously reported, Walsh has been an important defender of immigrants’ rights over the last week.  In Los Angeles, SEIU California, Local 721 and the Los Angeles Federation of Labor have been organizing nightly protests to the ban. In Ontario California, the United Farm Workers organized protests at Ontario airport and issued a statement saying that they will stand with immigrants and refugees against the ban.  Protests also spread throughout the country in Seattle, Dulles Airport, Dallas and even Omaha, Nebraska. Even the Screen Actors Guild Awards saw the actors from Stranger Things

While the protestors were fighting the vile order issued by Trump, one company saw the opportunity to get rich.  As Taxi drivers in New York declared a strike, ride sharing app Uber, announced that they would continue to pick up from JFK and they would be eliminating their surge pricing during the strike. Surge Pricing is when Uber raises their price to meet higher than normal demand.  The company literally had a sale during the strike.  By the end of the day #dumpuber was trending on Twitter with thousands of people posting pictures deleting their Uber apps and accounts.  

As the days go by, organized labor is continuing to stand up and resist the tyrannical orders being forged by Trump.  

Sign up for our e-Newsletter!