Today, a delegation representing civil rights and labor leaders — which includes our very own Patty Kupfer — will be in attendence at the Mercedes-Benz annual shareholders’ meeting in Berlin, Germany, to protest Daimler AG’s silence on HB 56, Alabama’s worst-in-the-nation anti-immigrant law. Others in the delegation include Fred Redmond, International Vice President for the United Steelworkers and member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, Renata Soto, National Council of LaRaza board member and Executive Director of Conexión Américas.
The Mercedes-Benz parent company is one of the largest employers in Alabama and is a founding signatory of the U.N. Global Compact, which calls on corporations to ensure “they are not complicit in human rights abuses” where they do business. As part of the campaign, SEIU and its affiliate, the Southern Regional Joint Board of Workers United, submitted a complaint to the International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations that reads:
This complaint documents the current and anticipated cost to trade unions of: 1) general denials of equal protection and access to justice to undocumented immigrants; 2) the climate of fear produced by this law, which extends its impact beyond undocumented immigrant workers to workers who are from racial minority groups – including many who are legal residents and citizens; and 3) provisions that have a direct and demonstrable impact on trade union activities such as new organizing, representation of existing members, and enforcement of individual and collective contractual agreements on behalf of workers.
We believe that the U.S. government’s inability to act promptly and decisively to put in place a national policy related to immigration – attentive to international guarantees related to individual workers’ rights as well as to the rights of trade unions with immigrant members – has given the space to individual states to enact laws that are in flagrant violation of international norms. The fact that the violations in this case are the work of an individual State, does not insulate the U.S. from responsibility. Furthermore, the efforts of the executive branch of the U.S. government to challenge the law are simply insufficient to protect these workers and our trade union now, or into the future, without a deeper commitment to federal legislative reform.
“The fact that the violations in this case are the work of an individual State, does not insulate the U.S. from responsibility,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry and International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina, in a letter that accompanied the complaint to the ILO. “Furthermore, the efforts of the executive branch of the U.S. government to challenge the law are simply insufficient to protect these workers and our trade union now, or into the future, without a deeper commitment to federal legislative reform.”
The delegation is scheduled to hold a press call today at 1 pm ET to outline the results of the meeting and to announce next steps. Just last month, Eliseo Medina (SEIU) and Wade Henderson (The Leadership Conference) flew to Seoul, South Korea and attended Hyundai’s shareholders’ meeting to deliver a similar message. Next stop on the campaign will be Japan in June, when car company Honda holds its shareholders’ meeting.
All three auto-manufacturers have operations in Alabama. All three have yet to speak out against this anti-immigrant/anti-foreigner legislation.