Hundreds of UFCW stewards and staff from across the United States came together over two days in Omaha, Nebraska, to attend a groundbreaking training session in preparation for President Obama’s executive action on immigration, known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA). The training sessions took place on March 18-19 during the UFCW meatpacking and food processing chain meeting.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone called the UFCW’s work on immigration “the most important thing we will do over the next decade.”
“Our union movement will be stronger if we truly empower our immigrant members with programs like this,” he said.
The program is unlike anything in the labor movement and is the brainchild of UFCW Executive Vice President and Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department Esther López. “We are uniquely positioned to transform the lives of our members and their families with this work,” she said. “We need to lean in. Tens of thousands of families are counting on us and by working together, we will build a stronger UFCW in the process.”
Participants took part in four standing room only modules focused on ensuring UFCW members are first in line when the application process for DAPA officially opens.
The UFCW’s DAPA program, credited as a model nationally, includes three phases:
- The first, which includes last week’s workshops, is outreach and education. UFCW members and staff will leave Omaha with a better understanding of DAPA and take that knowledge back to their home areas.
- The second phase, which will take place at the local union level in the coming weeks and months, is assisting members in determining eligibility and the gathering and review of key documents.
- The final phase is helping eligible members prepare and submit their application.
“The labor movement and the immigration movement are connected,” said Ellen Vera of UFCW Local 75 in Ohio. “When we stand together, we can achieve anything. It is important we take up this work so we can continue to better our communities.”
Participants received detailed immigration guides to bring back to their locals. This coincided with the launch of the UFCW’s DAPA online toolkit—http://immigration.ufcw.org.