Unions fight to save jobs as vote on TPP fast track authority draws near

On March 4, about 10 days after Congress returned from a week-long recess, more than 400 union members participated in a grassroots lobbying effort to convince their Senators and Representatives to oppose fast track authority for ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new trade deal being negotiated in secret.

While lawmakers were in recess, they also were visited by union members and other concerned citizens who urged them to say no to fast track authority for TPP.

Union members are opposing TPP, said Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO because it will “mean fewer jobs, lower wages, and a declining middle class.”

The US and eleven trading partners in the Pacific Rim have been negotiating the TPP for about five years.

Supporters refer to TPP as a trade deal, but, according to Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America (CWA),  TPP is less about setting the parameters for free trade and more about “protecting the interests of big business at the expense of workers, and those who care about the environment, global health care, human rights, consumer safety, and balanced trade and manufacturing revival.”

While most of the details about TPP have been kept secret, the few details that have been leaked have been a source of concern.

In a February 25 opinion piece appearing in the Washington Post, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was particularly critical of one of the terms of the treaty that has been made public.

TPP like other trade deals contains a section that establishes Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedures, which allow corporations to sue a nation, if that nation’s laws or regulations might lessen future profits.

“Agreeing to ISDS in this enormous new treaty would tilt the playing field in the United States further in favor of big multinational corporations,” writes Sen. Warren. “Worse, it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.”

Warren said that ISDS clauses in other trade treaties have resulted in challenges to other countries’ laws that established a minimum wage, protected the environment from nuclear reactor meltdowns, and required tobacco companies to warn consumers about the health risks of smoking.

While union members who participated in the March 4 grassroots lobbying effort share Sen. Warren’s concerns, their main message to lawmakers was that TPP will eliminate jobs and lower wages.

The Obama Administration has been saying that TPP will create 650,000 jobs over the next ten years, but more than 60 union leaders who signed a letter to lawmakers opposing TPP said that instead of looking at rosy predictions, the lawmakers need to look at the track record of previous trade deals.

Trade deals like NAFTA have been sold as being job creators, said the letter, “but they don’t create jobs; instead, they make it easier for firms to invest offshore.”

For example, NAFTA, the 1993 trade deal involving the US, Mexico, and Canada, cost the US 685,000 jobs between 1993 and 2010, the 2012 trade deal with Korea has cost the US 60,000 jobs.

TPP could be even worse. Robert Scott of the Economic Policy Institute writes that research has shown that trade deals like NAFTA have created large trade deficits for the US, that is, they have resulted in a higher ratio of imports to exports.

Higher trade deficits mean the loss of jobs in the US, and, according to Scott, TPP will increase the US’ already large trade deficit.

“New data released this month show that the US trade deficit with the countries in the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership increased to an unexpectedly large $265.1 billion in 2014. . . This increase is further proof that U.S. workers don’t need another job-killing trade deal, which would undoubtedly grow the trade deficit even more.”

During the February congressional recess, CWA members met with lawmakers. At one of these meeting, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas brought along the leader of US’ TPP negotiating team, Michael Froman, who has justified TPP by saying that it will create 650,000 jobs.

At the meeting, which was attended by CWA members as well as members of Public Citizen and the Sierra Club, Claude Cummings, CWA Region 6 vice president, called out Froman for making that claim and pointed to a Washington Post Fact Check article that said that the job creating claims for TPP were the result of “fishy math.”

The March 4 grassroots lobbying effort came as the TPP negotiations appear to be wrapping up.

When the final version is complete, President Obama will ask Congress to grant itself fast track authority to ratify the bill.

If it does so, then Congress will vote on the treaty without a chance to thoroughly review the pact or make amendments to it.

With so many jobs at stake, and the fact that fewer jobs will drive down wages, unions are asking lawmakers to give themselves more time to review the treaty by denying itself fast track authority.

In their letter to lawmakers, union leaders said that fast track is undemocratic and urged lawmakers to bring the terms of the treaty “out from behind closed doors.”

“If you stand for higher wages, more jobs, and greater opportunities for America’s hard working families, you will oppose fast track,” concludes the union letter.

NJ Judge rules that Gov. broke the law by not fully funding public pensions

A New Jersey judge has ruled that Gov. Chris Christie broke the law when he used his veto powers to withhold payments appropriated by the state legislature to the state’s public pension funds.

Gov. Christie’s veto is the second time that he has ignored a 2011 agreement with public employee unions to get the state’s public pension funds, which have been under funded for at least a decade, back on track toward being fully funded.

In 2011, unions agreed to benefit reductions and increased employee contributions in order to make the pensions sound again. In turn, state leaders agreed to make state contributions to the pensions that would cover current costs and estimated future liabilities.

The agreement if carried out would have led to full funding of the pensions by 2018.

The governor signed off on the agreement.

However, in 2014 Gov. Christie withheld $2.4 billion from the state’s four public pension funds in order to meet a shortfall in the state’s budget.

Judge Mary Jacobson in 2014 upheld Gov. Christie’s decision by ruling that Gov. Christie had the authority to divert pension money to avoid a budget shortfall.

When she made her 2014 ruling, she also noted that the 2011 agreement between the state and the unions was a contractual obligation.

When the New Jersey Legislature passed a budget for 2015, the budget included the full amount required by the 2011 agreement.

Gov. Christie, however, vetoed the line of the budget that provided $1.57 billion in pension contributions.

Unions representing public workers, filed suit.

In a hearing, Gov. Christie’s attorneys tried to justify the governor’s actions, but this time Judge Jacobson said no.

“The court cannot allow the state to simply walk away from its financial obligation to teachers, firefighters, and other public servants,” said Judge Jacobson in her ruling.

The suit to force Gov. Christie to make the agreed upon pension payment was initiated by New Jersey public employee unions including the Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFSCME, American Federation of Teachers, New Jersey Education Association, the firefighters union, public safety unions, and a host of other organizations.

After Judge Jacobson made her ruling, Hettie Rosenstein, CWA New Jersey state director, said that the ruling was good for public servants who have kept up their end of the deal to save New Jersey’s public pensions and  criticized Gov. Christie for not doing the same.

“It’s unconscionable that these hard-earned pensions are in peril, and we can’t let that happen,” said Rosenstein. “It’s not only a legal requirement for Gov. Christie to make the pension payments, it’s also a moral requirement. Will another three hundred thousand seniors live in poverty simply because Christie cares more about what plays to right-wing audiences in Iowa than doing right by New Jerseyans?”

Gov. Christie vetoed the pension contributions because he didn’t like the fact that the Legislature had implemented a tax on millionaires and added a temporary surcharge to the corporate business tax to fully fund the pensions.

Gov. Christie denounced the judge’s ruling and said that he would appeal the decision.

Some of Gov. Christie’s predecessors had gotten into the bad habit of raiding the state’s pension funds and using the money for other purposes, which resulted in the pensions being severely under underfunded.

Gov. Christie in 2011 appeared to be breaking this bad habit when he signed off on the pension deal.

But in 2014 he reverted to old ways when he used pension money to close the budget gap.

That action caused Fitch, a credit rating agency, to downgrade New Jersey’s debt rating.

To cover himself, Gov. Christie began negotiating with the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) on a new agreement for saving one of the state’s pension funds.

Shortly after Judge Jacobson ruled against Gov. Christi, he announced that he had reached an agreement with NJEA. The deal, which likely contains more benefit cuts, would put, said Christie, the pension fund back on the path toward being fully funded.

But New Jersey public employee unions, including NJEA, said that Gov. Christie’s announcement of a pension-saving deal was premature.

NJ.com reports that Wendell Steinhauer , president of the New Jersey Education Association, responded to the governor’s announcement by saying that Gov. Christie had “overstated the nature of the understanding” with NJEA.

Other public employee unions blasted the announcement as well.

In a message to members Rosenstein and CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton said that the union would contest Gov. Christie’s appeal and continue fighting for full pension funding.

“We will never abandon our commitment to protect our members’ pension plan,” said Rosenstein and Shelton. “We will always talk – to both Legislators and to the Governor. We do want a permanent solution to the never ending under funding of the pension. But fundamentally, the Governor must agree that law must be obeyed. Our message to the Governor is clear: Obey the law – put the money in.”

Postal workers bargaining to protect the public good

At the opening bargaining session for a new collective bargaining agreement between the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the US Postal Service (USPS), APWU broke with tradition by proposing changes to the Postal Service that will protect and expand this vital national service, so that it can better serve the public good.

“The APWU is passionate in our support for the crucial mission of the public Postal Service,” said Dimondstein. “But today this mission is in jeopardy. It’s threatened by a congressionally manufactured financial crisis, by those on Wall Street that would like to get their hands on the Postal Services’ $65 billion in annual revenue, and by ideologues who oppose the very concept of the public good.”

The Postal Service is an essential though often overlooked catalyst for commerce and communication in the US, and APWU’s bargaining proposals include those that reward APWU members for their important work.

“We’ll seek to end a “three-tiered structure that pays workers significantly different amounts for performing the same work,” said Dimondstein. And “we believe that all postal workers should be justly compensated, provided a safe workplace, and after our careers have concluded, enjoy a dignified retirement.”

But in addition to seeking fair pay and benefits,  APWU will use this round of collective bargaining to seek service improvements.

“We will be putting forth proposals for maintaining overnight delivery standards, halting plant closings, expanding hours of service and staffing for the customers, and providing financial services such as postal banking,” said Dimondstein.

Postal banking may sound far-fetched, but 2014 the USPS Office of Inspector General proposed doing so.

“APWU supports allowing the Postal Service to provide basic financial services to the 68 million American adults who don’t have bank accounts or have limited access bank services,” said Dimondstein.

 

Many of these workers turn to check cashing stores and payday loan companies for their banking services.

“In 2012 Americans without bank accounts spent 10 percent of their budget on interest and fees at check cashing companies and payday lenders,” continued Dimondstein.

Non-profit postal banking would help many of these workers keep more of their paychecks.

Dimondstein pointed out that Post Offices already sell money orders and between 1911 and 1967, they were places where workers could open and maintain secure savings accounts.

Postal services in other countries provide basic banking services. The Pew Charitable Trust reports that, “three of four postal operators worldwide offer financial services, which are used by more than 1 billion people.”

APWU will also be proposing ways to end delays in mail delivery.

APWU reports that in January USPS lowered service standards that virtually eliminate overnight mail delivery. Mail delivery will continue to deteriorate if USPS carries through with its plan to close 82 mail processing centers.

The union will be bargaining to keep open distribution centers slated for closure and for adequate staffing levels that will make it possible to raise service standards.

Another APWU negotiating goal is to protect the public good by stopping privatization. USPS has already entered into a secretive, no-bid contract with Staples, the office supply store corporation, to provide postal services and has outsourced some of its ancillary work.

“Privatization of postal services doesn’t just hurt postal families, it thwarts a constitutional right that is guaranteed for all Americans: A public Postal Service,” said Dimondstein.

To emphasize that there is more at stake during these negotiations than just improving wages and benefits, APWU has initiated a contract campaign to mobilize both its members and the public to support its fight for quality postal services.

As part of this campaign, APWU has won the support of more than 60 national organizations. According to the union, “this unprecedented alliance is comprised of national religious coalitions, retiree organizations, educational and postal and other unions, lawmakers, and progressive advocacy groups.”

To show their solidarity with APWU, representatives of some of these groups attended the first bargaining session.

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO and Danny Glover, the famous actor whose parents’ were postal workers, both gave brief speeches expressing their support for APWU’s goals.

In a video explaining why he is supporting the union’s goals, Glover said that “now more than ever we need the Postal Service to thrive and innovate for the future.”

“Join me in a Grand Alliance to strengthen a cherished institution, our Postal Services, a public trust and a national treasure,” added Glover.

Tipped workers in NY get a raise

Tipped workers in restaurants, hotels, and other service businesses in the State of New York will receive a wage boost next year when a new minimum wage for tipped workers goes into effect.

New York’s Acting Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino on February 24 approved a recommendation by New York’s Wage Board to raise tipped workers’ minimum wage to $7.50 an hour effective December 31.

New York has three levels of minimum wages for tipped workers, $4.90, $5.00 and $5.65, depending on the type of job. Those tiers will be consolidated into one, and all tipped workers will be paid a minimum of $7.50.

New York’s minimum wage for all other work is $9.00 an hour

The Restaurant Opportunities Center United (ROC United), a worker center for low-wage workers, called the minimum wage increase for tipped workers a victory and said that it was made possible by collective effort.

“It took 2,000 e-mails. . . months of One Fair Wage rallies, events, and public testimony, and our collective voice to reach today’s victory,” said ROC United in a statement about Mr. Musolino’s decision.

The Hotel and Motel Trades Council AFL-CIO, SEIU, and the Retail Wholesale Department Store Union held a rally in support of the decision and invited Gov. Andrew Cuomo to speak at the rally to announce the decision.

In a posting on its Facebook page, the Labor Religion Coalition of New York State said that as a result of the decision, “239,000 workers in New York just beat the corporate lobby and won an unprecedented wage increase. Next up $15 and a union.”

Last fall during testimony before the Wage Board, David Jones, president and CEO of the Community Service Society of New York, explained why tipped workers need a raise.

According to Jones, 30 percent of tipped workers in New York City make less than $10 an hour with tips included, and between 20 and 30 percent do not earn enough to keep a family of three out of poverty.

Tipped workers are twice as likely as non-tipped workers to live in poverty.

Twenty percent qualify for food stamps and 22 percent are on Medicaid.

Tipped workers in New York City, where the cost of living is higher than almost any other city in the US, could be getting even more of an increase.

Musolino’s decision allows an extra $1 increase to the tipped minimum wage in New York City if the state legislature allows the city to increase its minimum wage.

The State of New York’s minimum wage for tipped workers is well above the $2.13 national minimum wage for tipped workers, which hasn’t increased since 1991.

A 2011 report by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says that a lower minimum wage for tipped workers doesn’t serve any purpose, except to give employers of tipped workers a subsidy that helps keep their labor costs low.

EPI also reports that the lower minimum wage has turned tipping into a necessity rather than a gesture of rewarding excellent service, and as a result has pressured customers into subsidizing employers labor costs.

“Raising the tipped minimum wage up to a higher percentage of the regular minimum wage would be a step in the right direction, but perhaps we should simply eliminate the tipped minimum wage altogether, and give tipped workers the same basic protection afforded to other workers,” concludes the report.

FairPoint strikers show their solidarity as they return to work with a new contract

Wearing red to demonstrate their solidarity, FairPoint workers in New England returned to work on February 25. Their return ended a four-month strike that affected telecommunication services in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.

Before the 1,700 striking workers, who belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the Communication Workers of America (CWA), returned to work they ratified a new three-year collective bargaining agreement.

When FairPoint and its unions began negotiating a new contract last summer, the company, which hasn’t turned a profit since emerging from bankruptcy in 2011, demanded $700 million worth of concessions that would have eliminated benefits and job security.

Workers said that solidarity made it possible for them to succeed in resisting most of the company’s concession demands.

“We survived on the support we received from each other and our supporters,” said Julie Dawkins, a FairPoint worker from Portland, Maine to the Portland Press Herald. “We are like family now. We are definitely stronger than before.”

Among the concessions demanded by FairPoint, the company wanted to increase workers’ monthly out-of-pocket health care cost by between $400 and $1200, eliminate their defined benefit pension, implement a two-tiered wage system that would lower new hire pay by about 20 percent, and eliminate restrictions on outsourcing, which put the jobs of all union workers at risk.

When workers balked at making these steep concessions, FairPoint walked away from the negotiations, and imposed new terms of employment that included all of its concession demands.

Workers gave the company some time to reconsider its rash actions, but in October when it appeared the FairPoint wasn’t going to change its decision, the workers went on strike.

The company made every effort to break the strike including hiring replacement workers, conducting surveillance of peaceful picketers, and slandering its own workers in the media.

But the workers stayed united.

“You held the line longer and stronger than even you thought possible,” said a message posted on the Fairness at FairPoint Facebook page. “You supported each other. You helped each other. You sacrificed and yet refused to give in no matter how hard things got. You loudly and proudly stood shoulder to shoulder with your brothers and sisters. You formed a bond that can never be broken, with people you may have never met before and those you already consider family.”

With the help of a federal mediator, the two side were able to reach an agreement that union negotiators called fair to both sides and an overwhelming majority of members ratified.

The new agreement preserves the strikers’ defined benefit pension, allows them to transfer to a union operated health care plan that provides quality benefits at a lower cost than the health care plan that FairPoint tried to impose, eliminates the two tier wage structure, and provides job protections against outsourcing.

The new agreement, however, does include some worker concessions.

The pension benefits accrued up to implementation of the new contract are frozen and beginning with the implementation of the new contract, the rate of benefit accrual is reduced by 50 percent.

New hires will have to wait 12 months instead of six months to get raises that will eventually put them at the same rate as current employees.

Under the previous collective bargaining agreement, workers had an unlimited number of sick days. Now, sick days are capped at six per year.

Retiree health care for current employees was eliminated. Those who retire within the next 30 months will be able to receive a stipend for health care expenses until they turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

Union negotiators said that they knew that it would be difficult to avoid making concessions.

The company’s financial difficulties and pressure from FairPoint’s hedge fund investors to shift more of the cost of doing business on to the backs of its workers gave the unions little room to maneuver.

Everyone understood that “this was a concessionary bargaining session,” said Peter McLaughlin who led union negotiations to the Bangor Daily News.

But the final outcome was better than most people thought possible.

When a reporter asked Scott Boudreau, a striker attending a ratification meeting in Portland, how he was going to vote, Boudreau responded, “I am voting for it. It is a good deal. It is far better than what they were trying to ram down our throats.”

The reporter also said that as he stood outside of the meeting room where the Portland ratification vote took place, he heard cheers and chants of “one day longer, one day stronger” as members prepared to vote on the new agreement.

“It was worth it to have the struggle,” said Curtis Lawrence, another striker to the reporter. “We stood up and had the fight. It’s one thing to give lip service, it’s another thing to do it.”

Oil workers’ strike for safe work and communities grows

Workers at four more oil plants have joined the US oil worker strike for safer work and safer communities.

The new strike sites include the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest refinery in the US, and three other facilities: two Motiva refineries in Convent, Louisiana and Norco, Louisiana, and Shell Chemical in Norco.

Motiva is a joint venture between Shell and Saudi Refining, a subsidiary of Saudi Aramco.

Shell is the company representing Big Oil in its contract negotiations with the United Steelworkers (USW), whose members include 30,000 US oil workers.

When an agreement is reached, it will establish a pattern on wages, benefits, and safety conditions for all refinery work covered by collective bargaining agreements with USW.

“We’re committed to reaching a settlement that works for both parties,” said Tom Conway, USW vice president. “But inadequate staffing levels, worker fatigue, and other important safety issues must be addressed (by the company).”

According to a USW message to members, Shell has ignored the union’s proposals to reduce workplace fatigue, a well-documented safety hazard.

Shell has also ignored union proposals that would give workers more control over protecting their safety and the safety of those living in nearby communities, and it continues to insists on relying on ill-trained, temporary contractors to perform dangerous maintenance work.

Safety is the union’s major concern in these negotiations because refineries are a dangerous place to work. Toxic and reactive chemicals are combined at extreme temperatures and high pressure. Mistakes or faulty equipment, such as leaking pipes, can lead to deadly explosions or vapor leaks.

In the past seven years, 27 oil workers have died on the job as a result of safety lapses.

In the past eight years, 349 fires have been reported at US oil refineries and related facilities.

At a recent rally in Texas City, Texas, Leslie Dillon, the wife of a striking oil worker held up a homemade sign that summed what the strike is all about. “I would rather see him (Dillon’s husband) on the picket line than dead,” read Dillon’s sign.

A February 18 explosion at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance, California refinery  demonstrates how dangerous oil refinery work can be for workers and for those who live nearby.

The explosion injured four workers and spewed chemicals and potentially harmful dust into the atmosphere.

The Torrance Daily Breeze reports that when the explosion took place, nearby residents said they felt the ground shake. After the explosion, city officials instructed children at 12 nearby schools and nearby residents to stay indoors.

At a town hall meeting on February 20, about 200 residents confronted Exxon Mobil about its response to the explosion and asked what chemicals had been released into the atmosphere. The company declined to answer.

Residents also complained that Exxon Mobil did not sound a refinery siren that would have warned them to go inside because dangerous vapors may have been released into the air.

“I’ve counted on that warning for 53 years,” said resident Jean Severance, a nearby resident to the Torrance Daily Breeze. “What happened? If we had heard that siren, we would have stayed inside.”

The Torrance explosion is the second US refinery explosion in 2015.

Another explosion and fire took place in January at the Husky Energy refinery in Lima, Ohio.

After the Torrance explosion, Gary Beevers, USW vice president, who is leading the USW national oil bargaining team, reiterated that the striking oil workers are fighting for improved safety measures that will protect workers and residents of nearby communities.

“We believe that improved safety measures (at refineries) can significantly reduce explosions and fires at these dangerous facilities,” said Beevers.

The expansion of the oil workers strike means that 6,600 workers at 15 refineries and related facilities are now on strike.

The latest expansion of the strike for safety came after Shell made its seventh contract offer, which the USW rejected for the seventh time.

“The new offer fails to improve safety in an enforceable way,” said the USW in a statement after it rejected the company’s offer.

The oil workers’ strike is now entering its fourth week.

To help oil workers meet expenses during the strike, USW is asking supporters to contribute to the workers’ Unfair Labor Practices Strike and Defense Fund.

“USW oil workers have forced into an unfair labor practices strike,” reads a statement by the union. “The workers are fighting to secure fair contracts that will protect the health and safety of workers and communities. Your donations will help support these brave workers and their families.”

Unions blast immigration ruling; vow to stand with immigrant workers

Two unions have condemned a ruling by a federal judge that temporarily halts implementation President Obama’s executive order on immigration reform.

In November President Obama issued an executive order giving 4 to 5 million immigrant workers living in the US without immigration documents an opportunity to come out of the shadows and live and work in the US with dignity and without fear.

Judge Andrew Hanen on February 16 issued a temporary injunction halting implementation of procedures that would allow immigrant workers to apply for work permits, which would give them legal status in the US and relieve them of the fear of being arrested and deported.

The procedures for applying for work permits were to become effective on February 18, but for now, those procedures are on hold.

UNITE HERE and SEIU both issued statements criticizing Judge Hanen’s ruling and said that they would continue working with immigrant workers to help them achieve fair treatment on their jobs.

They also said that they expected Judge Hanen’s decision to be reversed on appeal and that they would continue to help immigrants apply for work permits when the judge’s injunction is lifted.

Elana Durazo, a UNITE HERE vice president, said that hundreds of thousands of UNITE HERE members work in the hospitality industry and that immigrant workers are the backbone of the hospitality industry.

“They shouldn’t have to live or work in fear,” said Durazo.

Durazo pointed out that some employers use immigrant workers’ lack of legal status to prevent them from getting fair pay and good benefits.

As an example, Durazo pointed to Cristan Torres, a college cafeteria worker, who was fired for trying to organize a union.

Before Torres started standing up for better pay and better working conditions, his employer wasn’t concerned about whether he had proper immigration documents.

But after Torres became an open union supporter, his employer used his lack of immigration documents as an excuse for firing him.

UNITE HERE was able to get his job back and keep him from being deported.

“We’re here to stand with workers like Cristian and thousands more working in hospitality, who only want an opportunity to provide for themselves and their families,” said Durazo. “It’s time for out-of-touch, anti-immigrant politicians to end these political stunts and stop playing games with people’s lives.”

Rocio Saenz, an SEIU vice president, urged immigrants affected by Judge Hanen’s injunction to “continue to compile information and documents you will need (to apply for work permits).”

Saenz called the judge’s ruling a temporary disappointment rather than a setback and said that “the law is on the side of (President Obama).”

President Obama said that the Justice Department would appeal Judge Hanen’s injunction.

“This judge and his right-wing backers can’t bend the law to their personal will,” said Saenz. “They stand on the wrong side of history and justice. The law is on the side of the President, who has broad authority to determine immigration enforcement policy.”

Saenz called immigrant workers “a part of the greater American family” and was optimistic that justice for immigrant workers would prevail.

“Immigrant families are not the enemy,” said Saenz. “We are confident that justice will prevail as this case moves through the court system and that the relief granted by the president will take effect to the benefit of millions of families.”