This Land is Our Land
Some sections of US big business are not too happy with the attacks on immigrants rights. They rely on cheap immigrant labour to make a profit and the legal status is beside the point. The disruptions to their profits caused by strikes and protests are also a cause for concern for them. Some employers are voluntarily closing on Monday as workers are set to walk out anyway. Immigrant workers in the US are beginning to see their power as workers, a powerful shift in consciousness.
Reuters: "World Perspectives, an agricultural consulting firm, estimated that 40 percent of all immigrants in the United States work in agriculture. Of that, 25 to 75 percent of U.S. farm laborers are 'fraudulently documented,' it says.
From crop production to grain and oilseed processing to turf farms, horticulture and lawn services, Hispanic labor -- legal and illegal -- permeates the U.S. countryside.
A recent study by the American Farm Bureau Federation said a crackdown on illegal immigrant labor could cause production losses in U.S. agriculture of $5 billion to $9 billion in the first one to three years and up to $12 billion over four or more years.
Most of the immediate effects would be seen in the fruit and vegetable sector but problems would be felt everywhere in the crop and animal-feeding sectors, notably in the Midwest.
'It's not just a fruit-and-vegetable California problem. This affects anyone who owns the machines, custom harvests -- virtually these jobs are a 100 percent migrant work force,' said Austin Perez, policy director for the AFB.
'You find the highest illegal immigration counties are now in the Midwest,' Perez added.
AFB says that despite heavy use of machines to plant and harvest the largest U.S. crops -- corn, soybeans and wheat -- Midwestern farmers often rely on cheap labor to fill positions that family members once performed.
The size, concentration and tight margins of industrial farm production have fueled a continuous demand for cheap labor to keep the pipeline running.
Dairy operations from a few hundred to many thousands of cows are round-the-clock milking and feeding jobs. Massive hog and poultry barns now housing thousands of animals in close quarters also require constant labor and monitoring in what can be harsh, unsanitary and dangerous conditions.
So 'raids' by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) can be disruptive, analysts said.
'A few years ago INS did a raid in Nebraska and it messed up the cattle market. It drove live cattle prices lower -- $1.50 to $2 per hundredweight because there weren't enough employees in packing plants to run the cattle through,' said World Perspectives analyst Dave Juday."
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:: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 ::
He's the patron saint of Palestine, Georgia...and England. Which was where I spent Sunday. A belated happy St. Georges Day to you all.
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:: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 ::
Roman voting figures for Rifondazione on a thank you poster from the local party.
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:: Monday, April 17, 2006 ::
Gary Younge in the Guardian today on the immigrants movement in the US. Very interesting.
Guardian Unlimited | Comment is free | With these protests, have America's Hispanics finally broken their terror?: "'All books about all revolutions begin with a chapter that describes the decay of tottering authority or the misery and sufferings of people,' wrote the Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski in his book, Shah of Shahs, about Iran's revolution. 'They should begin with a psychological chapter, one that shows how a harassed man breaks his terror and stops being afraid. This unusual process demands illuminating.' And so it has been in recent weeks. Children walked out of school; their parents walked off the job. 'The foreman said everybody has to show up today, but we came anyway. We have to march,' Dionicio Morales, a bricklayer from Guatemala, told the Los Angeles Times. 'There won't be any brickwork there today.'"
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:: Thursday, April 13, 2006 ::
Sí Se Puede
The movement of immigrant workers, mostly hispanic workers, in the USA continues to take off. It now seems that 1st May has been set as a national day of action, essentially a general strike of immigrant workers against the proposed racist legislation which would criminalise immigrant workers and those who help or employ them.
From yesterdays Wall Street Journal:
"At a New York rally starting at 3 p.m., demonstrators filling the narrow confines of Broadway from City Hall north to the edge of SoHo heard speeches from Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer -- both strongly condemning any attempts to force undocumented immigrants to leave the country -- and from a string of likeminded community and labor leaders. In the crowd were day laborers, hospital orderlies, care-givers to the elderly, pizza cooks, busboys, waiters, bartenders and the simply curious.
In many places, the events sent businesses racing to deal with the missing workers. Meatpacking plants in the Midwest and hotels and other businesses in the South were crippled by absenteeism among Hispanic workers. Major companies, like Tyson Foods Inc., sought to play down the impact of the rallies and stoppage on its operations. A spokesman said that "fewer than 10 of the more than 100 facilities" weren't operating due to the demonstrations and market conditions.
North Carolina, home to an emerging Latino population, was hard hit. A call by local immigrant groups for a retail boycott also prompted many Hispanics to stay away from work altogether. At the Omni Hotel in downtown Charlotte, a housekeeping coordinator reported that only two out of a 20-plus staff had shown up. "More than 90% of my workers are Latinas," she said. "They didn't show up."
Compare Foods Supermarkets, a supermarket chain that caters to Hispanics in North Carolina and beyond, saw a substantial slowdown in business. Cashier supervisor Mauricio Osorio said that there was "nobody compared with other Mondays." He predicted a 30% drop in sales. German De Castro, a Colombian native with U.S. citizenship who owns Tex-Fil Inc. in Charlotte, which processes filament yarns for the knitting and weaving industry, said: "I had about 20 employees. About 15 are Latinos. They all stayed out of work today. We talked
about it and I support this 100%." He said they were being paid.
In a "campaign for immigrants' dignity" yesterday, marchers in Omaha,
Neb., carried flags from the U.S., Mexico and other nations.
About one-third of U.S. restaurant workers are estimated to be Hispanic. Bryan Elliot, a restaurant analyst in Atlanta, said that in the long term, "if events create a reduction in newly arrived workers, that could significantly raise the cost of meals to ... consumers."
David Whitlock, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta, where yesterday's
demonstration was expected to draw 30,000, said he was hearing from business clients "concerned" about the prospects of continuing absenteeism. "I'm advising some companies almost completely dependent on foreign workers," Mr. Whitlock said. "They're nervous. They could be
crippled." His clients, he said, range from "a 10-person oriental-carpet shop to a 10,000-employee casino operator."
Health-care services were especially wary of losing staff without notice. "Our advice is there's not much you can do other than asking people not to leave en masse," Mr. Whitlock said. "We're telling them, apply your absentee policy. If you overreact, in our opinion, you are wide open for a discrimination charge."
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:: Wednesday, April 12, 2006 ::
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:: Tuesday, April 11, 2006 ::
Red Flags FTW
Looks like the left won the lower chamber in Italy, albeit narrowly. They are predicting a win in the upper chamber too.
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:: Monday, April 10, 2006 ::
Victory in France
Major victory in France as the government back down from the CPE law which would make it easier to sack young people and increase insecurity. A great success which continues the anti neo-liberal vote NO vote on the European constitution.
BBC News Paris Indymedia
All this plus more big immigrant demos in the US, and the Peruvian and Italian elections...it's all happening.
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:: Friday, April 07, 2006 ::
Free Lefty Films
Free open source movies, these two have a 'labour' theme.
"The Prologue" from The Passaic Textile Strike - Albert Wagenknecht and others
This film was part of an effort by striking immigrant wool mill workers. Two of the seven reels from their efforts have been lost, however, "The Prologue", a dramatization about the lot of an immigrant family working in the mills, is complete. Production costs for the film were payed primarily by the American Communist Party. From the AFI/Thomas Brandon Collection at the Library of Congress, copied at 19fps from a 35mm print.
Lots more there too.
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:: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 ::
I have finally updated the Edinburgh Mayday site.
Check out the fine line-up, albeit bragg-less. Sadly I will miss Edinburgh Mayday for the first time in about a decade as I have to be away on my travels. Boo.
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:: Tuesday, April 04, 2006 ::
Wanna Destroy Passers By
A for Anarchy is the anarchists retort to the V for Vendetta film which neatly cuts out all the anarchism from the original work. Now I ain't no anarchist (still have memories of the 'reclaim the streets' demo here in Edinburgh whose stickers bore an anarchy logo and the slogan 'no socialists'), but this is a smartly executed idea.
Still haven't seen the movie, looking like a DVD job.
update: uploaded the photo to flickr, well they can't complain about copyright can they?
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:: Monday, April 03, 2006 ::
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:: Saturday, April 01, 2006 ::
Kick Over the Zimmers
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