Friday, May 30, 2008

New kid on the immigration block

UAW going to bat for immigrant workers in Canada
Immigration by Guidy Mamann
June 23, 2008 05:00
Folks, there’s a new kid on the immigration block.
This one doesn’t wear a suit and tie nor does it don legal robes.
Nope, this one is more accustomed to hard hats and steeled-toed boots.
This hulking giant has the financial and political backing of an army of 280,000 Canadian men and women and knows more than a thing or two about political action. This new player has a rapid response network at its disposal and focuses on injustice in the Canadian workplace.
This kid has now taken up the cause of one group of foreign workers in Canada who could use a bit of muscle behind it.
This goliath is the United Steelworkers Workers Union, District 6.
The Ontario district of the USW doesn’t mince words. It unabashedly describes itself as “A strong, militant union fighting for justice”.
Well, if the USW is looking for injustice, it’s come to the right place. There’s tons of injustice to go around in the immigration business. So, welcome aboard.
On June 10, the USW announced that it had formed a new association to take on the cause of nannies and caregivers who are, or who have been, participating in Canada’s Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). The USW teamed up with Migrante-Ontario, an alliance of Filipino migrants in the province, to establish the “Independent Workers Association”.
This new organization will offer representation, “based on a union model” to workers in the LCP. The USW has signaled that it will defend the interests of marginalized workers who do not have traditional bargaining relationships and who are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
The first act of the union, through its new entity, was to immediately take up the cause of my firm’s client, Juana Tejada, the nanny who completed her two years of service in Canada but whose application for permanent residence was refused after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
For now, the Independent Workers Association seems to be limiting its focus on the plight of nannies through its “Home Workers Section”. However, the organization is very diverse in its membership and could form new “sections”. At any given time, there are many thousands of foreign workers in Canada in numerous sectors. If the USW decides to go to bat for all of them, this could dramatically improve the lot of these workers who can easily be taken advantage of.
Our immigration department can always match the muscle of any immigration law firm since it has a large team of lawyers on its payroll at the Department of Justice and has limitless resources. When it does lose a major battle here and there, it can simply change the rules of the game.
In the face of systemic injustice, immigration lawyers and consultants cannot match the organizational and financial resources of the USW. It looks like they may soon have a very powerful, albeit unlikely, political ally in the USW if the organization decides that all foreign workers in Canada need a well organized and well resourced champion in their corner.

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