(Newsmax) – Labor unions are eyeing an estimated four million immigrants who entered the United States illegally as a prize pool of new recruits for their struggling movement, now that President Barack Obama has used an executive decree of amnesty to shield the migrants from being deported, Fox News reports.
Labor groups including the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, and United Food & Commercial Workers have begun reaching out to immigrants covered by the president’s executive order.
They are training organizers, partnering with community groups and churches for recruitment, and using the Internet to inform immigrants about their protected status, Fox reports.
One union leader, Tom Balanoff of SEIU, told the Associated Press that he hopes one effect of the president’s order is that “more workers will come forward and want to organize.”
Supporters argue that the executive order — if it withstands the legal and congressional challenges it faces — will spur immigrants to join unions in large numbers without fear of reprisal or deportation.
Critics of Obama’s move have said it violates the Constitution and will ultimately hurt American workers by depressing wages and forcing them to compete with millions of new job applicants.
Union membership and political clout have declined in tandem over the last decade, as the share of U.S. workers represented by unions shrinks, and more states move to curtail the power and bargaining rights of public-sector unions.
“And in some states where Republicans boosted their numbers in the November midterms, lawmakers are planning another wave of so-called ‘right-to-work’ bills next year,” Fox reports.