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28 Mar Mike Garcia: A Legacy of Organizing

Posted in Blog: Labor Edge Mike Garcia: A Legacy of Organizing March 28, 2017 Fearless. That was Mike Garcia. In his nearly 40 years with the labor movement, Mike never backed down from a fight. He was fierce, passionate and unwaveringly committed to social and economic justice, especially for low-wage workers most in need of a voice on the job. Mike passed away over the weekend after an illness. Today, the entire California labor movement mourns his loss with his family, friends and brothers and sisters at SEIU-USWW. Mike’s career in labor began in 1980, organizing janitors in multiple cities. To Mike, organizing wasn’t a job; it was a calling. Immigrant janitors are among the workers most in danger of exploitation. Giving those workers a voice was the driving force of his career. As the leader of SEIU local 1877, Mike led success organizing campaigns for janitors at tech behemoths like Oracle and Apple.  In 2000, Mike led a three-week strike of janitors in Los Angeles, a bold action that led to dramatic gains for those workers and was the impetus for a powerful movement of low-wage workers in LA that continues to this day. Mike didn’t organize from behind a desk. He organized in the streets.  At the worksite.  At the homes of his members. It was a 24-hour, 365-day job. That’s what his members loved about him. He wasn’t just their leader. He was their friend. He was one of them. His fierce commitment to worker justice led to the expansion of Local 1877, and in 2010, Mike became the leader of a new 40,000-member strong statewide union representing property service workers, SEIU-USWW. Mike was also a powerful voice for all workers through his role on the Labor Federation’s executive council. Mike would challenge us to be bolder, to take risks and to never forget that at the core, we’re all organizers. His leadership helped unions lead the fight to defeat Meg Whitman in 2010, electing Jerry Brown as Governor. While there were many things to admire about Mike – his tenacity, his drive, his strategic mind, his compassion – his legacy is grounded in his ability to get his members to believe that anything is possible when they stand together to take on powerful forces aligned against them. Under Mike’s leadership, a union of immigrants rose to become one of the strongest voices for worker rights and social justice in the state of California. Those members believed in Mike, and Mike got them to believe in themselves, no matter the odds. Mike was a friend. He was a brother. And he was one hell of an organizer. While we mourn his passing, we know his spirit lives on in the hearts of every immigrant and worker who organized for justice. It lives on with every family lifted out of poverty because they got a union on the job. It lives on through the social justice movements Mike helped build, that gave voice to the voiceless and power to the exploited and vulnerable. We’ll miss you dearly, Mike. There will never be another like you. — In lieu of flowers, Mike’s wishes were for contributions to be made to the “Building Skills Partnership” C/O Mike Garcia Scholarship Fund 828 West Washington Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90015 in order to help SEIU members’ children attend college.  (Tax deductible )  For more info, please email info@buildingskills.org Information on services for Mike Garcia: TBA Posted in Blog: Labor Edge ...

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12 Nov Immigrants gripped by deportation fears with Trump election

Immigrants gripped by deportation fears with Trump election By ASTRID GALVAN and AMY TAXIN, Associated Press THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES PHOENIX (AP) — President-elect Donald Trump launched his candidacy on an anti-immigrant sentiment and has vowed to repeal a key Obama administration program that shields hundreds of thousands of people from deportation. Now, many immigrants in the country illegally, or with relatives who are, fear deportation and separation from their families. In immigrant-heavy areas like Los Angeles and Phoenix, activists are scrambling to provide informational meetings for immigrants to help them protect themselves from deportation. Others want legal immigrants to apply for citizenship so they can eventually obtain legal status for relatives. "The more we can naturalize people and stabilize our families and root our communities the better," said Julio Perez, executive director of California's Orange County Labor Federation, which is sponsoring naturalization events in response to the election. Here are stories from some immigrants who fear what a Trump presidency could bring. WORKING NOW BUT FEARING DEPORTATION Thirty-two-year-old Karina Ruiz is one of 741,000 immigrants benefiting from the program launched by President Barack Obama called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It allows young adults to get work permits, social security numbers and protects them from deportation. The Phoenix mother of three says deferred action allowed her to work and graduate with a biochemistry degree from Arizona State University in 2015. She hopes to be a pharmacist one day. But Trump has promised to end DACA, and Ruiz fears she could be sent to Mexico and separated from her U.S.-born children. "I'm not giving up DACA so easily, not going down without a fight," Ruiz said. WORRIED PARENTS WILL BE SENT TO MEXICO Michael Nazario, a 27-year-old community activist from Phoenix, is shielded by DACA and married to an American citizen, which should allow him to get permanent residency soon. He came to the U.S. with his parents illegally when he was three and didn't find out about his legal status until he tried to enlist in the Marine Corps and could not do so without a social security card. All four of Nazario's siblings were born in the U.S. and his parents would probably have been eligible to stay under an expansion of Obama's DACA program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans. But the program was challenged in court and never went into effect. Trump also opposes it. Nazario said a grassroots effort to make sure the program stays in place is now necessary to ensure his parents can stay in Phoenix. "I feel bothered by this election but it only inspires me to just keep going forward because what's at stake is not only my deferred action but my family as well, my father, my mother and the 11 million immigrants all across the country," Nazario said. ASPIRING LAWYER FEARS DEPORTATION TO SOUTH KOREA Matt Lee's parents brought him on a tourist visa to Southern California from South Korea when he was 13. Now 25, he has a college biology degree and wants to attend law school so he can become a patent lawyer. He was among the first to apply for the DACA program and now works legally, helping other South Koreans fill out immigration forms. But his dreams of becoming a lawyer are clouded by Trump's vow to get rid of DACA. Other young immigrants have told him they fear they will be tracked down for deportation because the federal government has their names and addresses, courtesy of their DACA applications. One mother said she is pulling her daughter out of a study abroad program in China to get the daughter back into the U.S. before Trump takes office, Lee said. "People are not sure if Trump will definitely carry out what he said because it is a crazy idea," he said. "Now the crazy idea of him being elected — that happened. Nothing is certain." NO GREEN CARD WITHOUT A RETURN TO MEXICO Dora Rodriguez has lived in the U.S. illegally for 27 years but has still managed to raise her two U.S.-born children and work at a money transfer business in Santa Ana, California. More than 75 percent of the city's residents are Latino, and nearly half of them were born abroad. Rodriguez said her daughter is now an adult, and could sponsor Rodriguez for permanent residency. But Rodriguez, in her 40s, would have to return to Mexico to apply and risk staying there for years to get her papers, leaving behind her teenage son in the U.S. She remembers anti-immigration sentiment in the 1990s in California but that didn't get her deported. She said she doubted much would end up changing under a Trump presidency. "When (former California Governor) Pete Wilson was here, I heard the same ...

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