Following powerful calls to end detention by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and by the New York Times editorial board, the New York State United Teachers have taken a significant step for the Labor Movement for immigrant rights.
The New York State United Teachers Representative Assembly (NYSUT RA) adopted a resolution to investigate current pension investments in prisons and to move immediately to divest from prisons.
Recent reports have revealed the role of the prison lobby in expanding immigrant detention. Many union pensions invest in the Million Shares Club, a select few financial institutions with more than a million shares that drives the prison industry’s lobby to successfully increase incarceration and detention.
“The UFT along with teachers from Hempstead led this effort to defend immigrant families, many of the kids we teach in the classroom are immigrants or have immigrant parents,” said United Federation of Teachers (UFT) Chapter Leader Cecilia Cortez. “Private prisons are behind racist policies locking up more immigrants, like the family detention camps, all for money.”
Jamie Trinkle of Enlace who last week joined a volunteer Legal Brigade working to free families from the Correction Corporation of America refugee family prison camp in Dilley, Texas said, “The humanitarian crises and the pain that private prisons create and perpetuate are real. The UFT resolution is a commendable stand by the labor movement to end family and immigrant detention, and by teachers to end the criminalization of their students.”
Cecilia Cortez of the UFT said that union activists are preparing for the NYSUT Board of Directors July Meeting to move forward with divestment and send a message to the Prison Lobby that we will not comply with their lobbying efforts to criminalize, incarcerate and detain immigrants and people of color.