Nation’s Oldest and Largest Latino Civil Rights Organization Calls Invitation from State Business Groups Insincere After They Excluded Hispanic Leaders from Immigrant Labor Conversations
Omaha, Nebraska — LULAC of Nebraska has canceled a meeting with the state’s three largest business chambers after the trio’s leader failed to reply to the discussion issues for the planned dialogue on Friday, September 29. The invitation to a proposed meeting came after LULAC challenged the Lincoln and Omaha Chambers of Commerce for excluding Hispanic leaders from recent significant events to discuss Nebraska’s labor needs and how immigrants can help solve the shortage.
The two chambers brought Bryan Slone, Nebraska Chamber of Commerce President, to coordinate a meeting. LULAC agreed to attend and form a coalition of Hispanic leaders, then set out the issues of concern to the Latino community.
“We were ready to explore opportunities,” said Elsa Ramon Aranda. “However, we will not allow our immigrant community to be exploited. Our four pillars for the meeting all dealt with the working conditions and treatment of our hardworking men and women, who have been historically underpaid. Moreover, many must work without overtime for schedules that often exceed 40 hours and can be up to six or seven days at their peak.
Plus, most immigrant laborers do not have health insurance, so when they get sick or injured, they go without pay or lose their jobs and are replaced by the next laborer. We are not willing to be discarded any longer, and being undocumented does not justify our community being abused,” added Ramon Aranda.
LULAC of Nebraska questions how Governor Jim Pillen formed a commission in August to address the state’s workforce shortage but excluded the community representing the nation’s most significant and youngest labor demographic, Latinos. The Latino or Hispanic community in Nebraska is only 12% of the state’s population.
However, in all labor sectors and industries, including agriculture, construction, and services, Latinos are overrepresented for their percentage of the census. Also, their earnings and purchasing power now add $2 trillion to the country’s economy, and they are projected to triple in size across the U.S. by 2050.
“Everything points to progress in cities and states where we work together,” says Ramon Aranda. “The all-important ingredient is respect for one another in finding mutually beneficial solutions. I am disappointed but not discouraged that Governor Pillen has not seen this reality. Also, the business Chambers of Commerce are stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime by overlooking what we bring and excluding us, perhaps out of fear, because they see our growth, perseverance, and innovation.
Our Latino businesses are thriving while many retail shopping centers are struggling. We are resilient, ready, and eager to do the work others are not, which is why we will prevail,” she adds.
Meanwhile, the ¡OYEME OMAHA! Hear Me Omaha! campaign led by LULAC is forging ahead and broadening the coalition’s focus to include employment inequities, including in the police and fire ranks; disbursement of safety net social programs’ funding; and representation in institutions of higher learning.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit lulac.org