300-plus launch immigration reform campaign in Seattle

The Stand

SEATTLE (Feb. 20, 2013) — Hard hats, union tees, and business suits dotted the crowd in equal measure, and shouts of “¡Si se puede!” rose over paper plates of Mexican and Vietnamese food.

“We are!” called Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

“UNION!” bellowed the crowd.

“We are!”

“COMMUNITY!” came the reply.

“We are!”


And indeed, the packed hall of the Seattle Labor Temple was united as one on Monday, as a forceful labor and community coalition came together to join the national launch of the AFL-CIO’s campaign for comprehensive immigration reform.

More than 300 people attended the Feb. 18 kickoff event for comprehensive immigration reform at the Seattle Labor Temple.

“President’s Day was a proud day for labor and our community allies as hundreds of individuals from 50 unions and community groups launched labor’s kick-off for comprehensive immigration reform,” Johnson said. “Seattle’s event was one of 14 events held around the country by labor to point out that we are all in for a common sense immigration policy that rewards the contributions and hard work of immigrant workers and their families and provides a simple and fair pathway to citizenship.”

Workers told their own immigrant stories at Monday’s event, of the struggle to survive in a world shaped by globalization and the inestimable value of belonging to a union. As labor reached out across the nation to usher in immigration reform, these individual stories lent depth and urgency to the work at hand.

Labor leaders at the event addressed the larger political ramifications as well. The issue of immigration reform, and the interests of working people as represented by the electoral work of unions around the country, swayed the 2012 presidential election.

Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, spoke of the undeniable contributions of immigrant men and women to the United States, and the fact that their work deserves the respect and recognition that all citizens receive. Some day, she told the assembled crowd, these 11 million people will be able to participate meaningfully in our country… and they’ll support working family issues and candidates.

“The United States is a nation built on the blood, sweat, tears, dreams, and cultural diversity of immigrant workers,” Johnson added. “Every one of us has an immigrant story to tell about our families. The immigrant story is what has shaped the values of our country. We are a country that believes in the dignity of all work, that hard work should be justly rewarded, and that through our work we have the opportunity to provide for our families and that together we can create a shared prosperity for all.”

Reaching out to the team that gathered the coalition for the launch event, Johnson thanked M.L. King County Jr. Labor Council Executive Director David Freiboth and Political Director Dianne Gross, along with WSLC Field Director Lori Province, Political Director Karen Deal and the WSLC communications team of David Groves and Kathy Cummings for making Monday’s event a success.

Judging by the energy of the crowd and the resonance of the speeches, labor is ready to lead the charge on comprehensive immigration reform.

Here is KING-5 News coverage of Monday’s event:

Exit mobile version