NY Carpenters’ Union Embraces Immigrant Organizing
By Tiffany Ten Eyck, Labor Notes.
Posted January 8, 2008.“The union has had to recognize the reality that the only way to organize is to start organizing the immigrant workers.”
It wasn’t long ago that unionized carpenters were more likely to attack immigrant workers as they worked on construction sites than welcome them into a union hall.
“In the early 1990s, the union would go to non-union jobs and threaten to call–and sometimes call–immigration on the workers. It was a ‘wrecking crew’ situation,” said Greg Butler, a United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) member in New York City.
Organizing immigrant workers in the construction trades has proven difficult as immigrant workers are vulnerable to employer threats, work in job sites scattered widely across the city, and are often overlooked by union strategies that aim for larger workplaces–and quick campaigns.