The federal government has signed agreements with three foreign countries — Mexico, Ecuador and the Philippines — to establish outreach programs to teach immigrants their rights to engage in labor organizing in the U.S.
The agreements do not distinguish between those who entered legally or illegally. They are part of a broader effort by the National Labor Relations Board to get immigrants involved in union activism.
The five-member board is the agency that enforces the National Labor Relations Act, the main federal law covering unions. In 2013, Lafe Solomon, the board's then-acting general counsel, signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Mexico's U.S. ambassador. The current general counsel, Richard Griffin, signed additional agreements with the ambassadors of Ecuador and the Philippines last year.
"Those are the only countries that the NLRB has MOUs with," said spokeswoman Jessica Kahanek.
The agreements are substantially similar, with several sections repeated verbatim in each one. All three documents state that the No. 1 outreach goal is "to educate those who may not be aware of the Act, including those employees just entering the work force, by providing information designed to clearly inform [that nation's] workers in the United States of America their rights under the Act and to develop ways of communicating such information (e.g., via print and electronic media, electronic assistance tools, mobile device applications, and links to the NLRB's web site from the [country's] web sites) to the ... workers residing in the United States of America and their employers."