ORGANIZING & CAMPAIGNS

Sign To Bring Licensed Security Back to St Paul!

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Standing with Workers – Week of Action 2014

 This year’s Week of Action was good for workers, and tough for non-union companies throughout the Twin Cities. Union members, activists, leaders and allies within SEIU and in coalition with CTUL, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Take Action MN, ISAIAH and other partners took part in a Week of Action which kicked off Black Friday through Friday, December 5th. The week revolved around the demand that workers are sick of working hard and struggling to get by, bravely carrying the slogan “Fighting to live, not just survive!”

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The week kicked off in the wee morning hours of Friday, November 28th at the Home Depot in northeast Minneapolis. Black Friday strikes are something of a tradition for us, as CTUL continues their struggle for Justice for Retail Janitors against low-wage, non-union contractors. Despite frigid temperatures, Retail Janitors on strike marched with hundreds of others, all calling for better wages and union rights. Thousands across the country boycotted Black Friday, and Walmart workers went on strike nationwide to take a stand in the fight for economic freedom and equal human rights, and many joined the picket lines. Reports show Black Friday profits were down 11% from last year, and a major contractor signed an agreement allowing Retail Janitors to join Local 26! That is what people power looks like.

Along with the Week of Action, about 4o activists and leaders came together everyday for Leadership School where we taught each other how to act as a marshal, effective social media practices, we asked ‘what is a campaign and how do we build one that meets our needs?’ and held direct action trainings. The week also included political educational sessions where we learned about the economy; the myths we have been fed, the impact of those narratives and the history that has led us to where we are today.

The Leadership School attended a screening of the film “Food Chains”, about the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, farm workers in Immokalee, Florida. The event ended with a discussion that included some of the workers featured in the documentary.

Wednesday, the Leadership School had the chance to plan and execute actions from start to finish, putting to good use the skills we’d acquired during the week. The team chose to hold actions on worksites where workers had recently been fired for their organizing activity, and we took our energy to Walmart in Apple Valley, Burger King on Nicollet in south Minneapolis and the Minneapolis/St. Paul Airport.

Nationwide fast food strikes took place on Thursday in 190 US cities and Minneapolis was one of them. Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and several city council members showed support at these rallies. Strikers from Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and more stood side-by-side with so much support from their community, protesters took it to the streets in the realest way. The movement shut down I-35w as we marched to Minneapolis City Hall to demand economic and racial justice. We marched in solidarity with protests around the world calling out the system that devalues black lives and holds us all back from peace and prosperity.

We closed the week with a rousing protest at MSP Airport on Friday. Several hundred showed up to support workers at non-union AirServ, a company owned by ABM in their fight for $15 wage and a union. Many there also supported Kip Hedges, a 26 year Delta employee and dedicated labor activist who was fired for speaking his mind on low pay. Marchers tired of the companies treating their workers like trash, took to the streets for half an hour, diverting traffic and sending a clear message to the companies that their workers will not stay silent. Congressman Keith Ellison joined the crowd and spoke out in favor of the workers demands.

Minneapolis set a remarkable example of what solidarity of low wage workers across industries and communities can look like. We had security guards standing with homecare workers, with retail and commercial janitors, fast food workers, airport workers and more. What will our fight in 2016 look like? We imagine a whole lot bigger!

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Fast for Families

Biden-FAST26On November 12, faith, immigrant rights and labor leaders announced the launch of “Fast for Families: A Call for Immigration Reform and Citizenship,” taking place on the National Mall, steps away from the Capitol. Leaders and immigrant members of the community will fast every day and night, abstaining from all food—except water—to move the hearts and compassion of members of Congress to pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship

Fasters will be joined nationwide by groups and activists who are prepared to make sacrifices for the passage of immigration reform with a path to citizenship. Can we count on you to stand with them?

Help amplify the fasters’ call on the conscience of Congress to schedule a vote and end the moral crisis facing 11 million aspiring Americans by joining the campaign and sending a message of solidarity and encouragement to the fasters. We’ll deliver your messages in the coming days when the fasters need it the most.

Join the “Fast for Families” – Send a message of solidarity!

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No Más Excusas

Mientras nuestro movimiento comienza otra gran semana de acción en Washington, DC, con el lanzamiento del Ayuno Nacional por las Familias y la marcha Juventud en Acción, algunos republicanos de la Cámara Baja han empezado a decir que la reforma migratoria no se va a dar este año, utilizando excusas como que no hay suficiente tiempo en el calendario. Están equivocados.
Si el presidente de la Cámara, John Boehner, (more…)

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Eliseo Medina: Immigration Reform Is a “Moral Urgency”

WASHINGTON, DC – As part of an effort to stress the urgency for Members of Congress to act to pass commonsense immigration reform with path to citizenship, immigrant rights, faith, labor and business organizations are preparing plans for the August Congressional recess period to engage voters and constituents around the issue. Eliseo Medina, Secretary-Treasurer of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), was arrested today at a civil disobedience event on Capitol Hill and issued the following statement:

“Our action today is meant to communicate the moral urgency of reforming our broken immigration system. The current system does not work and exacts a toll of misery on both immigrants and our economy. We have spent billions of dollars on deportations at the expense of investing in our schools, our infrastructure and programs that build up the economy. We must reform this failed approach in a way that treats immigrants with respect and reflects our morals and values as a nation.

“We took this action because we cannot allow the House to waste time. The urgency of the situation is too great. People are dying in the desert as they try to cross the border from Mexico, thousands of immigrants have been deported and every day families are being torn apart. We need to fix the system and we need to fix it now.

“While we have momentum on our side, some House Republicans still don’t get it. Instead of moving forward with a serious, comprehensive bill, the House chose to take a vote to deport DREAMers. And when we hear hateful rhetoric from Members of Congress like Representative Steve King, it gives us even more resolve to stand up for what we believe in – a pathway to citizenship.

“Speaker Boehner needs to understand the urgency for reform. Until the House passes a bill that includes a pathway to citizenship, we will continue to be in the streets, at town hall meetings and on the phones, demanding justice for the 11 million aspiring Americans in our country.”

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New Polling Numbers Show Bipartisan Support for Immigration Reform

Fb Matt

St. Paul, Minn. – New polling numbers released today show growing bipartisan support for the U.S. House of Representative to pass immigration reform this year, including Republican support in Rep. John Kline’s district. The numbers come a day before House Republicans are expected to discuss immigration reform at a summit in Washington D.C.

The surveys, which were conducted by Public Policy Polling in seven Congressional Districts across the country, found that voters would be less likely to vote for their Congressman next year if he opposes immigration reform.

In Rep. Kline’s district:

·         44 percent say they would be less likely to support Rep. Kline next year if he votes against immigration reform.

·         77 percent say it’s important for the US to fix its immigration system this year.

·         Voters support the Senate version of the bill by a 69-24 margin.

·         Republicans favor immigration reform by 37 points; Independents favor it by 39 points.

“These numbers reflect a growing momentum all across the country to finally fix our broken immigration system,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “The Senate provided a great starting point for the House – we urge our Republican Representatives to call on GOP leadership to bring this bill to the floor for a vote.” 

“The House must provide a pathway to citizenship and bring these 11 million aspiring citizens fully into our society. The Senate bill would bring millions of people out of the shadows and reunite hundreds of thousands of families.”

SEIU has partnered with a broad coalition of more than 30 faith, labor and business groups in Minnesota advocating for commonsense immigration reform. On Tuesday, SEIU members joined the coalition for visits to Rep. Kline, Rep. Paulsen and Rep. Bachmann’s offices in Minnesota, urging them to support immigration reform.

Nationally, SEIU has been a strong advocate for immigration reform, launching TV and radio ads featuring Americans of different backgrounds calling on Congress to pass immigration reform.

“Immigration reform is in the best interest of business and labor, of Republicans and Democrats, of all Americans, current and aspiring,” said Morillo. “Every day businesses are unable to hire qualified foreign-born workers. Immigration reform would allow companies to hire the most qualified workers. It would also stop employers that intimidate and exploit undocumented workers, a widespread practice that drives down wages and working conditions for everyone. The time is now for a vote.”

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Senate Passes Immigration Bill with Bipartisan Support

SEIU Leaders, Members Thank Senators Klobuchar and Franken for Votes in Favor of Path to Citizenship

St. Paul, Minn. – The U.S. Senate took a critical step toward fixing our country’s broken immigration system today with a bipartisan vote of 68-32 to pass commonsense immigration reform legislation. Members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in Minnesota are thanking Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken for their leadership and votes in favor of the bill.

“Senators Klobuchar and Franken have been incredible advocates for the 11 million aspiring citizens for years,” said Javier Morillo, President of Local 26. “At SEIU, we’ve been proud to partner with a broad range of business, labor, faith and immigrant rights groups here in Minnesota to help our Senators pass a bill that finally provides a path to citizenship and brings millions of people out of the shadows.

“This bill is not exactly what we would have wanted – the massive build-up at the Southern border will have serious ramifications for border communities and American taxpayers – but we look forward to continuing to work hard to change these provisions and make this bill something that benefits all of us,” continued Morillo.

Emilse Neira immigrated to Minnesota from Colombia and is now a U.S. resident. She is a janitor and a member of Local 26. For her, immigration reform is extremely personal.

“My husband was deported when I was five months pregnant,” said Neira. “At a time we should have been celebrating our new family, our family was instead torn apart. I’m happy to see this vote because the dad of my son can finally regulate his status to bring him out of the shadows. I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, not only for me, but for millions of families around the country. Thank you Senators Klobuchar and Franken for your leadership.”

SEIU has been a strong advocate for immigration reform, both here in Minnesota and nationally. Last month, SEIU International launched TV ads as part of an immigration ad campaign, featuring Americans of different backgrounds – including Republicans – calling on Congress to pass immigration reform. The ads represent the growing public opinion across party lines who believe that immigration is good for our country, but say the current system isn’t working.

“These Minnesotans – just as all new American immigrants – contribute to our communities, our society and our economy,” said Jigme Ugen, executive vice president of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “As an immigrant myself, I came to America because of the opportunities this country promises for all people. Thank you to Senators Klobuchar and Franken for your leadership not only in the Senate today, but in the Senate Judiciary which first heard this bill.”

SEIU members are now calling upon Minnesota’s representatives in the U.S. House to continue working together to pass immigration reform.

“All House members – especially Republicans – must realize that the American people want Congress to finally solve this problem,” said Morillo. “They must provide a pathway to citizenship and bring these 11 million aspiring citizens fully into our society. I love knowing that I live in a nation that is built upon the dreams of immigrants, upon the idea that in this land, all people have rights. The momentum will continue to fix our broken immigration system, once and for all.”

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Immigration reform: It’s not a done deal.

We’ve always known that passing real immigration reform is not a question of if but when.

Call your Senator

Another day of debate keeps the momentum for commonsense immigration reform going strong. Today, working families across the nation can continue applauding Senators for passing amendments to the immigration bill that strengthen protections for future and current workers. In particular, the W Visa program was further bolstered with components that reflect the unprecedented agreement made earlier this year between Labor and Business. While the debate will only intensify in the days ahead, we will continue the drumbeat for smart immigration legislation that not only mirrors our national values, but also includes a clear and direct roadmap to citizenship.

Most of our families came to this country simply because they wanted to make a better life and be part of the land of opportunity. We cannot stand by and let the “American Dream” become those black-and-white images of the past. We need a solution that takes the American economy into the future.

Get on the phones to tell your Senator that you support immigration reform with a clear path to citizenship. They must hear from you!

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International Workers Day

To celebrate May Day (International Workers Day), Minnesotans will be standing together to tell Congress that the TIME IS NOW for immigration reform. We will be starting at a Wells Fargo branch, where community groups will be closing their accounts and telling Wells Fargo that they cannot continue to both market to immigrant communities and at the same time support anti-immigrant politicians with their campaign contributions.

WHEN:

Wednesday, May 1st at 2:00 p.m.

WHAT:

The Time is Now: Together for Immigration Reform rally and march

WHERE:

Meet at the Wells Fargo at 2218 East Lake St in Minneapolis at 2pm to support community members closing their Wells Fargo accounts; Rally at 14th and Lake Street in Minneapolis with Keith Ellison at 3:30 p.m.

From there, we will march to the immigration reform vigil that community group Asamblea de Derechos Civiles is hosting. They have been fasting, praying and making hundreds of phone calls to Congress in support of commonsense immigration reform over the last two weeks. At 3:30 p.m., Representative Keith Ellison will address the vigil as to why this issue is so important to all of our communities and why the TIME IS NOW.

Please RSVP — We need to show corporations they can’t be on both sides of this issue and Congress that we are serious about getting immigration reform!

Yes, I’m going to be there on Wednesday.

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Top Ten Questions and Answers about the Senate Immigration Bill

1.      What are the general eligibility requirements for people for legalization?

 

At the heart of the Senate bill is a broad yet stringent legalization program that will put most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants on the road to eventual citizenship.  The bill provides for a several step legalization program that first allows people to apply for “Registered Provisional Immigrant” (RPI) status and then, after 10 years, for lawful permanent resident status, and then after 3 more years, for U.S. citizenship.

 

Eligibility requirements include passing criminal and security background checks and establishing continuous physical presence in the United States since before December 31, 2011.  Departures of less than 180 days during that period do not constitute breaks in physical presence. Certain criminal convictions (1 felony or 3 separate misdemeanors) and other grounds of inadmissibility render applicants ineligible for legalization. 

 

Applicants must pay a penalty fine of $500 at the time of initial application, another penalty fine of $500 at the time of renewal of RPI status, and then a $1,000 penalty fine at the time of adjustment to permanent status. Processing fees for adjudication of the applications  apply at each of 4 stages on the road to citizenship—initial application, renewal of RPI status after 6 years, application for lawful permanent resident status after 10 years, and application for citizenship after 3 additional years (if desired). 

 

A person may remain in in RPI status and renew it every 6 years if they so desire. At the time of RPI renewal and/or application for permanent residence, the applicant must demonstrate that they have maintained regular employment or education, payment of taxes, and the ability to support oneself.  At the time of application for adjustment to lawful permanent resident status, applicants must demonstrate that they are learning English and have a knowledge of civics.

 Persons who have final orders of removal, or who have previously reentered the U.S. after a prior removal or voluntary departure are eligible to apply for RPI status. In addition, certain people previously deported for non-criminal grounds and who have a spouse, parent, or child USC or LPR in the United States or who would be eligible for the DREAM Act, are eligible to apply for a waiver to reenter the United States in order to apply for legal status. Persons who entered the United States on a valid visa and then overstayed are eligible, provided they have been in unlawful status since December 31, 2011.

Individuals who receive PRI status can work legally in the United States and travel outside the country.  Their minor children, if present in the United States, can be included in their application.

Individuals with PRI status are not eligible for means-tested federal public benefits nor for  subsidies or tax credits under the Affordable Care Act.

2.      What will happen to people in current visa backlogs?

The Senate bill eliminates the entire family and employment-based visa backlogs within 8 years.  All of the people who are currently in the visa backlogs, waiting for their “priority date” to become current, will obtain lawful permanent resident status before the newly legalized RPI’s can obtain permanent status.

3.      Will the border enforcement “triggers” delay the legalization program?

The border enforcement triggers should not delay the initial RPI legalization program.  The “triggers” require the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit, within 6 months of enactment, two plans. The first is a strategy to achieve a 90% effective rate goal in high risk sectors of the Southern border. The second is a fencing plan designed to reinforce current fencing and barriers. The initial legalization program does not begin until these plans are submitted.  The legalization program also will not begin until implementing regulations are issued – within 12 months after enactment of the bill.  

If, after five years, the 90% effectiveness rate in high risk sectors has not been achieved, an additional pool of resources will be authorized for appropriation and a commission of experts and elected officials from border states will be formed. The border commission will issue recommendations to DHS regarding additional measures that should be adopted to help reach the 90% effectiveness rate goal. 

Two other enforcement “triggers” that have to be met before RPIs can apply for permanent residence involve  implementation of the E-Verify program and entry-exit controls at air and sea ports. Both of these triggers are achievable and should not delay the path to permanent residence.

4.      What about family members…spouses/kids of LPRs, siblings, LGBT partners, adult married kids?

The Senate bill provides for increased family unity by categorizing spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents as “immediate relatives” for immigration purposes.  This means that these family members are not subject to any numerical limitations. That, in turn, frees up visas for the other family categories, which will limit the size of any new backlogs that may develop in those categories in the future.

The bill will phase out the U.S. citizen sibling visa category and diversity visas. But all U.S. citizens with sibling petitions currently pending will be able to complete their sponsorship and new petitions may be filed for another 18 months. After that point, siblings still will be eligible for a new “merit based visa” and will receive eligibility points based on their family relationship. They will also be authorized to travel to the United States as visitors for two-month periods each year.

The adult married children visa category will be limited in the future to those who are under 31 years of age.

The bill does not provide for family visas for LGBT “permanent partners.” This provision will have to be added to the bill through the amendment process.

5.      What about DREAMERS, what happens to them?

DREAMERs can earn permanent legal status within five years, and are then immediately eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.  DREAMERs who have been previously deported may still be eligible to apply for legal status if they meet certain requirements, even if they don’t have a qualifying U.S. relationship

6.      What other changes does the bill make to the employment-based visa programs?

Farmworkers are eligible for an expedited five year path to permanent legal status and then eventual citizenship under current law.  In order to qualify, among other things, they must continue working in the agricultural sector for an additional 3-5 years post-enactment.

Other essential workers may apply for a new “W” worker visa which will allow them to enter and work in the U.S. for participating employers, change jobs to other W employers, and eventually self-petition for lawful permanent status under the new merit based program.

Both the W visa program and the new agricultural worker program are subject to important standards for wages and working conditions, negotiated by labor to protect both immigrant and native-born workers.

Finally, there are new protections against employers using immigration status to intimidate workers and to prevent international recruiters from misleading or otherwise mistreating those they bring to the U.S.

7.      What about people who had TPS or DED?

People who have been in the United States in lawful or employment authorized status, including TPS or DED,  for at least ten years are eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence.  This will allow people in these statuses who have already been here for more than ten years to adjust status immediately, instead of waiting another ten years.

8.      Are there any changes to the asylum and refugee programs in this bill?

The Senate bill provides important improvements to asylum and refugee programs, including the elimination of the arbitrary one-year filing deadline.

9.       What about other enforcement measures, such as E-Verify?

The bill includes a mandatory, universal employment verification program, E-Verify.  The program includes new due process and privacy protections, and is phased in over a period of five years until it includes all U.S employers.

10.  When will this bill become law? What is the process? When can people begin to apply for legalization?

The Senate bill must first move through a process of approval in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will be subject to amendment from both Republicans and Democrats on the committee.  The bill will then go to the whole Senate for debate and amendment and a final vote.  The House must also pass an immigration bill. 

If the House and Senate bills are not identical, the two bills will usually go to a House/Senate “conference committee” where further changes will be made as the differences between the two bills are worked out.  The final bill agreed-upon by the conference committee must sent back to both the House and Senate for final votes, and only then can the bill be signed into law by the President.

Once the bill is signed into law, there will be a one-year period in which regulations will be written to implement the bill.  The application period for the new legalization program will begin one year after the bill is signed into law, and applicants will have one year to apply.  The DHS Secretary can extend the application period for an additional eighteen months if necessary.

During the year it will take to finalize the regulations after bill enactment, and through the one or two-and-a-half year application period, individuals who are eligible for legalization will be protected from deportation.

No one can apply for legalization before the program application period begins, one year after the bill is signed into law.  Individuals should not pay anyone to prepare or file their application unless and until the official application period begins.  Information and deadlines will be posted on various government and non-profit organization websites.

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