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Teachers union withdraws endorsement of LAUSD candidate due to inappropriate social media behavior

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United Teachers Los Angeles made a significant decision on Monday night when it rescinded its endorsement of school board candidate Kahllid Al-Alim. The reason cited for this withdrawal of support was the revelation of offensive social media activity by Al-Alim, including posts that were antisemitic, pro-gun, and pornographic in nature.

In a statement released after the decision, the union expressed its condemnation of all forms of oppression, including racism, sexism, antisemitism, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and homophobia. This move by the union came as a blow to Al-Alim’s campaign to represent District 1, which covers much of South Los Angeles and southwest L.A.

Al-Alim, who had initially declined to comment on the matter, is expected to issue a statement addressing the situation on Tuesday. The decision to withdraw the endorsement was made during an emergency meeting of the union’s 250-member House of Representatives, following the suspension of on-the-ground campaigning on behalf of Al-Alim.

To officially retract the endorsement, the union had to follow a multistep process that lasted about two weeks, involving its endorsement team, Political Action Council of Educators, Board of Directors, and finally the House of Representatives. The union stated that its member leaders acted decisively as new information came to light.

Despite the ongoing process, Al-Alim continued to be promoted in online union endorsements and campaign materials distributed to voters during the final days leading up to the election. The teachers union had invested over $690,000 in an independent campaign supporting Al-Alim, as reported in records filed with the L.A. City Ethics Commission.

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Al-Alim issued a series of apologies in response to the controversy, acknowledging the complex history between Black and Jewish communities and expressing a commitment to learning from the situation. However, during a campaign forum, he took a different stance, stating, “I’m not ashamed of anything.”

The union’s statement reflected a willingness to engage in dialogue and learn from the incident, viewing it as a valuable learning opportunity for both UTLA and the wider community. Al-Alim had secured the union’s endorsement after a lengthy process, based on his track record as an education and community activist aligned with the union’s policy positions.

With six other candidates competing for the vacant seat in District 1, the withdrawal of support from UTLA also reverberated in the decision of the L.A. County Federation of Labor to suspend campaign activities on behalf of Al-Alim. This symbolic action by the county’s union movement underscored the significance of the situation.

One of the contentious social media posts by Al-Alim praised an antisemitic publication by the Nation of Islam and advocated for its inclusion in L.A. schools. Additionally, he had liked posts supporting individuals facing backlash for antisemitic remarks, further intensifying the scrutiny on his online activity.

As the election process continued with voting underway since Feb. 24, Al-Alim’s campaign finances and level of support were scrutinized. While the union had heavily funded his campaign, Al-Alim’s own fundraising efforts tallied $31,736 during the reporting period.

Among the other candidates in the race are Sherlett Hendy Newbill, Christian Flagg, DeWayne Davis, Didi Watts, John Aaron Brasfield, and Rina Tambor. Each candidate brings a unique perspective and background to the election, with varying levels of support and endorsements.

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Outside of UTLA, independent funding efforts have also been significant, with a notable investment of $520,493 on behalf of candidate Didi Watts. This funding, originating from Sacramento-based political action committees and a charter schools PAC, highlights the diverse financial support shaping the competitive race in District 1.

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Immigration in Maine Addressing Labor Shortage Could Set Trend for U.S.

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A significant labor gap in Maine’s lobster industry is being filled by immigrants, shedding light on the critical role that foreign-born workers are likely to play in the U.S. economy as the native-born population ages. Maine, known for its abundant lobster population, is grappling with an aging workforce that is increasingly unable to sustain the demands of the thriving lobster industry, valued at $1 billion.

Ben Conniff, a founder of Luke’s Lobster, underscores the importance of immigrants in sustaining the natural resources economy of the state, as many native-born workers are not inclined towards manufacturing work in food processing. Since its establishment in 2013, Luke’s Lobster has heavily relied on immigrants to staff its lobster processing plant, highlighting the vital role played by foreign-born workers in filling labor gaps.

With Maine boasting the oldest population in the U.S., with a median age of 45.1, the state offers a glimpse into the economic future of America, where immigrants are poised to be a crucial source of new workers and economic vitality in the coming years.

As immigration continues to be a hotly debated topic in the country, the influx of immigrants has been instrumental in boosting the American economy’s potential. The Congressional Budget Office has revised upwards its population and economic growth projections for the next decade, attributing the growth to the wave of newcomers entering the workforce.

Maine’s initiatives to attract and integrate immigrants into the workforce, such as the creation of an Office of New Americans, reflect the state’s proactive approach towards addressing labor shortages. Private companies like Luke’s Lobster have also taken steps to diversify and supplement the aging lobster fishing industry by training immigrants and minorities in lobster fishing and licensing processes.

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Chadai Gatembo, an 18-year-old immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, exemplifies the success story of immigrants finding opportunities in Maine. Despite facing challenges on his journey to the U.S., Gatembo is now on the path to becoming a full-fledged lobsterman, showcasing the potential for immigrants to thrive in new industries.

The influx of immigrants is not without its challenges, with issues of work authorization and economic stability confronting many newcomers. Adriana Hernandez, a mother of four from Venezuela, highlights the economic hardship faced by immigrants awaiting work permits, underscoring the barriers faced by unauthorized workers in integrating into the labor market.

Despite these challenges, the overall impact of immigration on the U.S. economy is significant. Immigrants have helped to bolster job growth, insulate the economy against downturns, and contribute to a more diverse and innovative workforce. Economists predict that immigration will play a crucial role in addressing labor shortages and demographic shifts as the native-born population ages.

The entrepreneurial spirit of immigrants like Chenda Chamreoun, who has risen from lobster cleaning to a quality assurance supervisor and now aims to start her own catering business, showcases the economic potential of foreign-born workers. Immigrants tend to be more entrepreneurial, adding to the innovation and productivity of the American economy.

J. Edward Moreno contributed reporting from New York, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs from Washington.

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