Union Uses NAFTA To Fight Alabama Immigration LawSubmitted by Charleston Voice on Tue, 05/01/2012 - 14:22
States Nullification of NAFTA called for by state assemblies...
Tuesday, May 01, 2012 2:18
Union Uses NAFTA To Fight Alabama Immigration Law
By SEAN HIGGINS, INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY
Posted 04/30/2012 06:10 PM ET
Opponents of Alabama's immigration law rally in Montgomery, Ala., on Feb. 14, 2012. The Service Employees International Union and Mexican National... View Enlarged Image
Big Labor is going a long way to challenge Alabama's new anti-illegal immigration law — all the way to Mexico.
The Service Employees International Union and a group of Mexican lawyers filed an official complaint Monday with Mexico's Labor Department, alleging that Alabama law HB 56 violates labor protections — under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The complaint is highly unusual. The international trade pact has never been thought to govern immigration policy inside states. Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer of SEIU, admitted to IBD that this was a completely unprecedented claim.
There is also the irony of a major union turning to NAFTA, which Big Labor bitterly fought against when it passed in 1992 and has criticized ever since, as a legal remedy in a political fight.
"What it gets to, I don't know," Medina told IBD regarding their novel trade complaint. "But I do think it needs to be looked at seriously ... We want this (Alabama) law thrown out."
Bryan Riley, a senior policy analyst specializing in trade at the conservative Heritage Foundation, called it a legal "Hail Mary."
"It is very far-fetched to me to use the NAFTA language to raise a question about the Alabama law, which doesn't seem to say anything about (immigrant) working conditions," Riley said.
The Alabama Attorney General's office did not respond to a request for comment at press time.
The SEIU's complaint argues that the Alabama law violates provisions under the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation, a supplemental agreement to NAFTA. It obligates the countries to ensure certain basic labor rights and says those rights must extend to migrant workers...
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