May 3, 2006

The Rise of the Migrant Workers' Movement

by James Petras
From Counter Punch

Between March 25 and May 1, 2006 close to 5 million migrant workers and their supporters marched through nearly 100 cities of the United States. This is the biggest and most sustained workers' demonstration in the history of the US...

...The movement's immediate objective is to defeat congressional legislation designed to criminalize employed migrant workers and a "compromise" designed to divide recently arrived workers from older workers. The key demand of the migrant workers is the legalization of all workers, new and old. The choice of direct action methods is a response to the ineffectiveness of the legalistic and lobbying activities of established middle-class controlled Latino organizations and the near-total failure of the labor confederation and its affiliates to organize migrant workers in trade unions or even build solidarity organizations...

...the movement was organized without a big bureaucratic trade union apparatus, and with a minimum budget on the basis of voluntary workers through horizontal communication...

...Finally the movement faces the problem of the uneven development of the struggle within the working class and between regions of the country. Most "Anglo workers" are at best passive while probably over half perceive migrant workers as a threat to their jobs, salaries and neighborhoods. The general absence of any anti-racist, class-based education by the trade union bureaucracy makes working class unity a difficult task.

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