SEIU fights for immigrant workers

By Sheri Williams

A coalition of workers, community advocates and Sacramento City Council Member Eric Guerra rallied in May in support of a state law protecting workers from discrimination.

The Trump Administration is working to overturn the law, Assembly Bill 450. SEIU filed an amicus brief with the federal court in defense of the law, which is critical to protecting immigrant workers across the state and ensuring their rights to privacy and due process are protected.

The Immigrant Worker Protection Act, also known as AB 450, is under attack after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Trump Administration sued the State of California on March 7 to stop the state from enacting the new rules. AB 450 ensures the safety, dignity and civil rights of all workers are upheld in the workplace by requiring workers are notified of I-9 audits, protecting workers from unnecessary reverification of work authorization that is not required by law and empowering employers to require a warrant before immigration enforcement agents can enter non-public areas of a worksite.

“These are basic protections and rights that all workers in California deserve,” said Sacramento Central Labor Council executive director Fabrizio Sasso. “Labor will always fight to defend all working people.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has vowed to fight the lawsuit and keep AB 450 – as well two other laws named in the lawsuit, SB 54 and AB 103 – in place. SEIU California’s filing of the amicus brief comes as cities and local jurisdictions around the state are considering supporting the Trump Administration’s lawsuit or standing in solidarity with the State of California.

Medical assistant Rosalie Garcia Bernal spoke at the rally about how AB 450 was critical to helping California’s workforce avoid situations like the one she faced when her employer of 30 years did an unnecessary and discriminatory reverification of paperwork and accused her of falsifying information, only to learn she was a U.S. citizen who was eligible to continue working. Garcia Bernal had to produce multiple proofs of identification over a three-month period and was even suspended despite the employer being at fault.

David Huerta, President, SEIU-USWW, has previously said about AB 450 that, “California has the chance to lead the nation and demonstrate that the answer to mindless hate and indiscriminate targeting of immigrants is respect for every individual’s legal rights and due process. By passing AB 450 (Chiu), the Assembly stood up for fairness and the rule of law. This measure not only protects workers from unfair detention, it also helps workers know their rights and offers employers important clarity about appropriate action to take when ICE agents target their businesses with indiscriminate raids.”