Global Trade Activist José Schiffino

Spotlight José Schiffino

Jose Schiffino is a union organizer in New York City.  In between visits to home health care workers, he is helping to organize a series of community forums to make sure New Yorkers know that their members of Congress could make or break our chances making globalization fair for working families.  You can use the form below to send a thank you to Jose and urge him to keep up the good work – and be sure to contact YOUR member of congress about trade and globalization.

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José Schiffino sees from the front lines how the privatization of health care and community services in the United States has undermined the care provided to the vulnerable in our society, as well as the wages and working conditions for the workers who care for them.

José gets his vantage point as a labor organizer in New York City for the Civil Service Employees Association, a division of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). His constituency is  home health care providers at group homes for the developmentally disabled.

Of Colombian and Dominican descent, José is an active member of the New York City chapter of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), an organization that promotes the rights of Latino workers in the United States. He is also a member of the State Committee for the Working Families Party of New York, a coalition of labor and community organizations working to elect progressive candidates and hold politicians accountable.

For the Working Families Party, José was charged with reaching out to a wide range of community organizations in his home neighborhood of Jackson Heights.  The aim was to build an alliance of groups that gave voice to the interests of the different communities within the district, to find some common ground in this neighborhood of rich diversity.  And find common ground they did – in the ongoing effort to defeat destructive and unfair trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and South Korea.

To José, it is natural that the expansion of the failed NAFTA trade model should be the issue that unites workers, immigrants, Peruvians, Colombians and Koreans in the United States and in their home countries.  When over 2000 labor activists have been murdered in Colombia in the last decade, trade agreements that fail to protect workers and encourage a “race to the bottom” on labor standards are not simply labor rights issues – they are human rights issues, moral issues. 

As the struggle to stop these so-called “free” trade agreements with Peru, Colombia and South Korea has heated up, José worked closely with the Global Trade Watch division of Public Citizen to help bring the voices of ordinary New Yorkers to some of the most powerful people in the country.  José traveled to Washington with his alliance to bring their message to their members of Congress, including Jackson Heights’ Congressman Joseph Crowley, an influential member of the Ways and Means Committee that handles all bills related to trade in the House of Representative. With U.S., Colombian, and Korean advocacy groups all supporting each other, the successful day of lobbying sent a strong message of unity against injustice.

The alliance followed up this success by beginning a series of community forums on trade and globalization.  The first, in Jackson Heights, featured a Korean speaker who highlighted the extra burdens that globalization imposes on female workers, representatives of Colombian organizations fighting for the rights of workers and indigenous people, an expert on immigration policy, as well as Public Citizen’s own David Edeli. Hundreds of Jackson Heights community members attended, writing postcards to Congressman Crowley and planning future activities. 

Now, José and the alliance are planning the second community forum, this time in Harlem. Harlem is the home of Representative Charles Rangel, the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee – a position that gives him a power unequaled by any in Congress to effectively challenge the Bush administration’s agenda of corporate globalization.  (To learn more about the Ways and Means committee and the current fight about trade and globalization, read Global Trade Watch’s latest action alert here). With José and his alliance mobilizing Harlem against the injustice of the status quo trade and globalization policies, Congressman Rangel will know he has to support of his constituents to set a new course on trade and globalization!

You can help José and his network of Peruvian, Colombian, Korean, and American activists in their efforts to defeat the expansion of the failed NAFTA model by contacting your member of Congress and urging him or her to oppose the Peru and Colombia NAFTA expansions and the Fast Track trade negotiating model that has made all these deals possible. Click here to take action!

And, if you have an extra moment, use the form below to send José a short thank you note telling him to keep up the good work!

December 13, 2018

Thank you, José.

We will add your signature from the information you provide.

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