Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigration Protest: Who's Gonna Pay?

"Massive " immigration reform rallies planned across the U.S. today, with literally millions of immigrants (many of them illegal) planning to ditch work to participate.

The goal is simple: to show Americans how much of an impact it will make on their daily lives if immigrant workers don't show up for the day.

I wonder who will feel it more though -- the person who's wastebasket doesn't get emptied or who can't buy a latte at his favorite coffee shop today, or the immigrant who will miss a day's pay?

I'm betting it's the immigrant.

Which goes to illustrate the price of protest and what it can mean for the participant. Before taking to the streets, protesters should think about whether their actions will stimulate the change they want, or if they're wasting their time at their own expense.

At an extreme was the Transit Workers Union strike in NY City last winter which can only be described as a complete disaster. By striking for a week during a bitter cold December and the heart of the Christmas holiday season, they strikers earned the anger and hatred of the working New Yorkers they stranded when buses and trains stopped rolling.

And since the strike was illegal, the workers personally were fined two days pay for every day they missed. The union itself was fined $1 million a day for every day of the strike, effectively depleting its coffers within a week.

The union president was sent to jail last week for contempt of court.

And union STILL doesn't have a contract and has made no progress on the concessions it sought -- in fact, they may have lost ground.

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