For immediate release
September 21, 2007
Remarks by Edgar Romney, Executive Vice President of UNITE HERE & Secretary Treasurer of Change to Win
New York City Office of Governer Elliot Spitzer — “Good afternoon everyone. I am pleased to be here today on behalf of the thousands of members of UNITE HERE and the 6 million members of the Change to Win Federation.
“UNITE HERE represents 450,000 workers in apparel manufacturing, distribution, and retail, industrial laundries, hotels, restaurants, gaming, and food service. We have 120,000 members living and working here in New York State.
“I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Governor Spitzer for his support in allowing all New Yorkers to have access to Drivers’ Licenses. This legislation comes at a critical time when immigrants are under attack – often for simply trying to stop abuses and better their working conditions.
Last month, 73 of our members, who work for the Aramark Corporation at the Meadowlands, were suspended based on last year’s Social Security No-Match letters in a move that was both premature – in that government regulations had not yet been implemented, and clearly overstepped the company’s bounds – since workers were not allowed to resolve discrepancies.
“Not surprisingly, this incident occurred in the midst of a national organizing drive by food service workers fighting to improve their working conditions and secure a better future for themselves and their families. The Department of Motor Vehicles is not, and should not be, an immigration agency.
It does not have the capacity, funding, or legal mandate to be one.
“We, at UNITE HERE, have been working with a broad coalition of labor and community groups to assure that immigrant members of our communities are treated FAIRLY. I want to thank the coalition for all of its hard work on this issue. Drivers’ licenses provide a valid form of identification and assure safety on our roads. Allowing all eligible New Yorkers – regardless of immigration status – the opportunity to get drivers’ licenses, is critical to improving the lives of working families across our state.
“Again, we’d like to applaud the Governor for his support on this issue.