Labor Organizations Reach Immigration Accord
The AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations have agreed to jointly support a specified set of comprehensive immigration reform measures. The accord endorses legalizing the status of undocumented individuals already in the U.S. and improving current temporary worker programs, but opposes any new guestworker programs. Immigration of workers would be managed via a national commission, which would set the permanent and temporary numbers to be admitted each year each year based on labor market demands.
The accord includes five features:
- An independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need;
- A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism;
- Rational operational control of the border;
- Adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and
- Improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.
The new accord did not sit well with many in the business community who favor a guestworker program. “If the unions think they’re going to push a bill through without the support of the business community, they’re crazy,” said Randel Johnson, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vice president of labor, immigration and employee benefits. “As part of the trade-off for legalization, we need to expand the temporary worker program.” Others, such as Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), a member of the House of Representatives’ immigration subcommittee, objected to the idea of legalizing undocumented workers: “In our current economic crisis, Americans cannot afford to lose more jobs to illegal workers.”
- AFL-CIO April 2009 Article (PDF)