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African Americans and Immigrant Workers

Miah, Malik

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/05/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article

Malik discusses job competition and tensions between Afrcian Americans and Hispanic workers, more specifically between African Amercians and undocumented workers. He illustrates this through the example of a conflict in a Chicago bakery.




Conflicts between white and Black workers have a long history. The backlash by the white working class against African American job gains accelerated in the 1980s under President Reagan. Affirmative action programs and consent decrees that forced employers and unions to end discrimination on the job were fiercely opposed.

All ethnic minorities had benefitted from these fights for equality on the job. Black and Brown workers were natural allies and fought together. This struggle has generally been the framework to win full equality for all workers.

The tensions between undocumented immigrant workers and Blacks is more recent, beginning with the reform of restrictive immigration law in 1965 and the end of legal segregation in the late 1960s.

Millions of legal and undocumented people came to the country. These social changes, coupled with the technological revolution that wiped out hundreds of thousands of mining, steel, auto and manufacturing jobs in the 1980s, brought a new ethnic dynamic into the once white-dominated workforce. African Americans had held many of these jobs, and were rarely retrained with plant closures.


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