Unions & Immigrants


For over a century the challenge of immigration has vexed organized labor. In the late nineteenth century, the American Federation of Labor (AFL), led by cigarmaker Samuel Gompers (himself an immigrant from Europe who, in his own words, “secured the honors and duties of citizenship” only in his twenties), entered national politics largely to press for immigration restriction. AFL leaders believed that an influx of immigrant workers could...

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About the Author

Clayton Sinyai is the political director of Laborers Local 11 in Alexandria, Virginia, and the author of Schools of Democracy (Cornell). He can be reached at csinyai@malaborers.org.

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