Type of practice:
The Injury2All Campaign is the AFL-CIO’s initiative to organize and protect immigrant workers and to build power on the job and in the community. The effort has secured significant policy wins, broadly educated our movement on the process, supported numerous affiliate campaigns, and helped a growing number of immigrant workers secure status protections and work authorization.
Implementation efforts advance our broader economic justice and worker organizing agendas, capacitate federated bodies to provide valued support to affiliates, and equip unions around the United States to help immigrant workers access temporary status protections when they take action to enforce our labor laws. This initiative is designed to support inclusive union growth, rebalance power dynamics and reduce inequality, strengthen relationships with immigrant workers and allies, promote decent work and economic growth, and secure wins that build momentum for the long-term fight for immigrant and worker rights.
The Biden administration recently announced executive actions to protect immigrant workers who take collective action. The process is called Labor Agency Investigation-Based Deferred Action, and it extends immigration relief through protection from deportation and work authorization to workers who are organizing or speaking up to enforce our labor laws. This process will help prevent unscrupulous employers from using undocumented workers to drive down wages and conditions for all workers in our country and strengthens labor protections for all workers in the United States. Although the status protections are temporary, they have the potential to help transform power dynamics in our workplaces by affording immigrant workers the status to assert their rights on the job. Of course, temporary protections are not the end goal of the Injury2All campaign, but rather a means to build power and achieve the next milestone in the fight for justice for immigrants and working people.
The AFL-CIO’s early advocacy around deferred action protections started in 2014, but it was dormant during the previous presidental administration. The current iteration of the Injury2All Campaign with its accompanying Toolkit and training modules were launched in September 2022, responsive to new policies enacted by the Biden administration to protect immigrant workers.
We have implemented the Injury2All Campaign successfully across the U.S. using the help of our federated bodies at the state and local level as well as our affiliated unions which have organizers across industries at a national and local level.
Benefit and Impact
The interest and impact of the trainings and technical support offered by the Injury2All Campaign has been vast. Since the launch of the campaign in late September of 2022, the AFL-CIO has conducted 50+ trainings of 2,000+ organizers and activists trained from 40+ unions in 30+ states and territories across the United States. To date, AFL-CIO staff have provided legal, policy and advocacy support for specific campaign cases for a number of affiliates across a variety of industries including building trades, manufacturing, retail, entertainment, service, and more. Importantly, we have seen the successful use of the program with multiple completed cases of deferred action for immigrant workers across the country. And lastly, the impact of the program has been such, that the AFL-CIO has continued to effectively advocate with the U.S. government at a federal level, as well as with state and local governments to push for more clarity and standards in the process for obtaining deferred action. Since the launch of the Injury2All Campaign, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Department of Labor (DOL) as well as local agencies in states like California, Illinois, and New York have published formal guidance on the process.
Importance of a whole of society approach: This practice requires a whole of society approach—government, labour organizations, community groups, and immigrant workers—in order to work. In this way, the Injury2All campaign brings together all those actors to strengthen the protections for all workers, and for immigrant workers in particular. Not only is this essential to empower immigrant workers who have historically been relegated to the shadows in the United States, but also to enforce our labour laws and improve labour standards for all.
Importance of Targeted and Continued Advocacy: Connecting protections for immigrant workers to existing labor law and to efforts to make workplaces safer, was essential to getting the current administration to announce the process for Labor Agency Investigation-Based Deferred Action. The Injury2All Campaign had a very specific goal and harnessed the influence and energy of unions and other groups to gain these protections, but it does not end there. The next phase of the campaign is to continue proactive advocacy to ensure these protections are implemented fairly, that they are effective, and that they can be renewed.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
Build relationships with government/policymakers: As with many new government processes, the rollout of these protections was slow and at times rocky. The advocacy done through the Injury2All Campaign fostered strong relationships with the various implementing government agencies in order to have a direct line of communication to advocate for the most effective process possible. Having these relationships in place has also comes in handy when unions and organizers bring cases forward. Lastly, it allows us to directly show the success of the process so that government agencies and policymakers can see the transformative effect that these protections have on immigrant workers in real time.
Consider the power of collective action: A collective bargaining agreement is one of the biggest protections a worker can have. This is especially the case when policies lead to a tiered workforce, where immigrant workers are often relegated to the bottom. The Injury2All Campaign harnesses the power of collective action to combat those dynamics and positively impact the wellbeing of immigrants in the United States. It transforms the process of immigration relief from a purely individual one, to a collective one where workers are protected when they join together to defend each other’s rights in the workplace. This collective action strengthens the power and urgency of the protections.
The Injury2All Campaign activates the vast network of AFL-CIO affiliates and federated bodies to spread the message across the country and across industries. With close to 11 million undocumented workers in the United States, it is essential to ensure that organizers and workers know about these protections and have the resources to access them. The Injury2All Campaign does just that by using a whole of society approach that connects unions, community advocacy groups, civil society, federal and local government, legal organizations, and immigrants themselves to deliver results. Because this process is intricately tied to workplace issues and labour disputes, our robust network of unions is uniquely positioned to reach workers, educate them on the protections, and build trust as they engage with this process.