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National Border Patrol Council wants RTW

They made a one dimensional move supporting Trump, but can we blame them?

Kris LaGrange's picture
Apr 04, 2016

On March 30th, the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) made an unprecedented endorsement.  For the first time in the unions history they chose to make an endorsement in the Presidential Primary. Unions make endorsements all the time, but this one was especially big since they became the first AFL-CIO union to endorse billionaire and pro Right to Work (for less) candidate Donald Trump.  Following the endorsement, allies and fellow members of the AFL-CIO began to call on the federation to drop NBPC as a member. Any labor movement true believer will tell you that is definitely the wrong move for the labor federation and the movement as a whole.

This isn’t the first time that activists have called on the AFL-CIO to drop a member.  During the summer of 2015, as anti-police sentiments hit a boiling point following some high profile police shootings, the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 2865 called on the AFL-CIO to end their affiliation with the International Union of Police Associations (IUPA).  UAW 2865, which represents 13,000 teaching assistants and students at the University of California, said in a resolution to the federation “That this organization is inimical to both the interests of labor broadly, and Black workers in particular.” They then went on to cite historical incidents between labor organizers and the police.  You can read their full letter here. Any union organizer can tell you that run-ins with po po are common, and cops are often called to respond to organizing actions with little to no background. It's common conflict and it happens all the time.

Now pro-immigration groups are using the same playbook against the NBPC.  In an online petition the group NotOneMoreDeportation, launched an online petition saying “The legacy of abuse and unaccountability within Border Patrol has made its membership in the American Federal of Labor (AFL-CIO) an issue of contention.”  The group, who has worked closely with the AFL-CIO on immigration issues, says that the endorsement shines a light on the disconnect between the NBPC and the immigrant community and that there is no place in the labor movement for hate.  This is not the first time that the AFL-CIO and the NBPC have sparred over immigration issues.  On their website, the union says that they "oppose all efforts by AFL-CIO to aid and support illegal aliens working illegally within the United States.” This is of no surprise to anyone, securing borders in their craft and who are we to tell them not to do their jobs.

Is kicking this union out of the Federation the answer?  Should a union be kicked out because they don’t share the same political viewpoint as the other unions?  This is not the right answer.  While Trump’s comments are reprehensible, it sometimes pays to have a union at the table.  Just like the United States has diverse opinions, so too does organized labor.  When unions become too tied to one political party, they lose their ability to successfully organize political pressure on our elected officials.  Many union issues have died in Congress because the AFL-CIO did not have allies on both sides of the aisle.  Part of what has caused such a polarized political climate is that this generation does not like people or organizations that don’t think like them and the result has been a Congress that refuses to work together.  If the labor movement purged someone every time they took a divergent opinion, they will lack any real power to get things done. 

We should all give the National Border Patrol Council a piece of our mind, but they are still a union with collective bargaining rights (for now). Kicking them out of the AFL-CIO is exactly what fascist Trump wants us to do. Hitler divided labor, let's not make the same mistake the Germans did. We are better than that.


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