Connecting worker struggles and immigrant rights
Efforts to advance labor rights are sprouting everywhere this spring, especially in Seattle and the Northwest. Now center stage are issues of fair wages, decent working conditions, the right to organize, and global pressures on the worker. Particularly affected are people of color, low-income families, and immigrants, whose labor is deeply intertwined with our lives.
This UW Social Work series joins the historic struggle for labor justice by exploring the intersections among those issues and creating space for us to make connections with Seattle's many labor groups and immigrant rights organizations. In conjunction with May as Labor History Month, we begin on April 30th, the eve of May Day, and continue with six sessions in May, closing with a Movie Night featuring Inequality for All.
Panel Discussion Sessions:
School of Social Work, 4101 15th Avenue NE
Refreshments served at all events
April 30: Room 305 (3rd floor), 5 – 7 p.m.
Global ↔ Local: Linking global immigration and labor issues to local experiences
Reception: 5 p.m. with opportunities to visit with representatives from organizations around our region
Panel Discussion: 5:30 p.m.
Organizations and audience members will explore how policies and practices under a globalized economy impact us all: U.S.-born and immigrant workers and our communities in Seattle. We seek to make tangible and real the effects of global pressures, U.S. immigration policy, and low-wage and forced immigrant labor. We will examine our own labor advocacy and experiences, both as individuals and as a collective.
Moderators: Tracy Harachi and Miho Onaka
Panelists: Robert Beiser (Seattle Against Slavery) , Maggie Cheng (Northwest Immigrant Rights Project), Danielle Friedman (Community Alliance for Global Justice)
May 7: Room 305, 5 – 7 p.m.
Im/migrant laborers’ rights: Those who farm our food, clean our hotels, and build our homes
The lives of many Americans are deeply intertwined with the labor of immigrants and migrants, but that intertwining is often invisible and absent from discourse. It can be far too easy to become unaware of and uninformed about the daily experiences of these workers. In this session, local organizations will share their insights about immigrants who farm our food, serve us in restaurants and hotels, and toil as day-labors. Learn what we can do as advocates in solidarity with these workers.
Moderators: Diana Pearce and Odessa Benson
Panelists: Carino Barragan (Casa Latina), Neftali Cabrera (Unite Here), Ramon Torres (Community to Community)
May 8: 12 – 1:30 p.m., Research Commons (2nd floor)
Underpaid direct care workers: The backbone of the long-term care system
Second only to families as providers of in-home care, home-care and other direct-care staff are the “hands, voice, and face” of long-term care. As “compensation” for their essential work, these workers receive only poverty-level wages with no or limited benefits and inadequate training and supervision. Among them are low-income women of color, often immigrants, caring typically for other low-income women, working long physically demanding hours that are central to quality care. They are underpaid and often unappreciated. Improving their work conditions and their career opportunities is a matter of social justice as well as central to quality of care for older persons and those with disabilities.
Moderators: Nancy Hooyman and Sarah Jen
Panelists: Nancy Hooyman (SSW faculty), David Westphal (OPEIU), Susan Young (SEIU 775NW)
May 14: 12 – 1:30 p.m., Research Common (2nd Floor)
A living wage, the $15 minimum wage, and me
Local groups and experts will peel through the controversies and myths, rationales and emotions, sound-bites and ideologies to distill the issue to its essentials. What would a $15-minimum-wage mean to my community and to me, as student, as social work professional, as advocate, as worker? What is a Living Wage? Why should I care, and what can I do? And how do immigrant laborers fit into the big picture?
Moderators: Diane Morrson and Yu Ling Chang
Panelists: Paul Bigman (ML King County Labor Council), Lynne Dodson (Washington State Labor Council), Nicole Keenan (Puget Sound Sage), Ted Vidrone ($15 NOW)
May 15: 5 – 7 p.m., Research Commons (second floor)
The social worker as “professional” and as “worker” in labor struggles
Faculty, students, and unionized social workers will discuss the social worker as “professional” in labor struggles and as “worker,” drawing on both historical and contemporary perspectives. We will explore social work’s history in both labor and immigration, and how those efforts have evolved. We will discuss social workers in the workplace today, including labor issues in internship, licensure and leadership roles, and strategies for moving forward.
Moderator: Susan Kemp
Panelists: Part 1. Susan Kemp (UWSSW Historian), Maria Rodriguez (UWSSW PhD Student); Part 2. Ivan Cuevas (UWSSW MSW Student), Shelby Mooney (OPEIU), Kimela Vigil (SEIU1199)
May 21: 5 – 7 p.m., Rm 305A
UW Scholars: Interdisciplinary perspectives on labor
UW scholars/researchers from diverse disciplines ‒History, Geography, Political Science, Social Work, Sociology ‒ who are tackling workers’ issues join together for a forum to explore cross-fertilization of ideas and perspectives, and to engender interdisciplinary research collaboration and dialogue. We will discuss convergences and gaps, differences and commonalities, and hot topics in labor research.
Moderators: Jennie Romich and Ji Young Kang
Panelists: Megan Brown (Geography), Jim Gregory (History), George Lovell (Political Science), Jennie Romich (Social Work), Jake Rosenfeld (Sociology)
May 22: 5 – 9 p.m., Rm 305
Free screening: Inequality for All
with rabble-rousing singing by The Seattle Labor Chorus
This closing event will feature a showing of the film Inequality for All, and informal discussions afterwards over popcorn, soda, and snacks.
This documentary, narrated by Robert Reich, examines the widening income inequality in the United States
The film distills the story of U.S. capitalism and globalism through the lens of widening income inequality and explores what effects this increasing gap has not only on the U.S. economy but also on American democracy itself. The very human stories of working families, struggling to cope, are front and center throughout. At the heart of the film are the vital questions: What is a good society and what role does the widening income gap play in the deterioration of the nation's economic health?
“…a human and surprising film. Not least because, incredibly enough, it's actually pretty funny. And, in large part, this is down to its star, Robert Reich.” The Guardian Robert Reich is a best-selling author, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, and a foremost expert on economics.
Photos courtesy Oscar Rosales Castañeda.