Monday, April 13, 2009
Together again. At least on one issue. The New York Times (Julia Preston & Steven Greenhouse) has a story on the AFL-CIO and Change To Win reaching an agreement to work together for immigration reform. An outline of their position is due out later today, but includes some form of legalization for current undocumented workers and resists a broad temporary worker program. According to the Times:
In the new accord, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win have called for managing future immigration of workers through a national commission. The commission would determine how many permanent and temporary foreign workers should be admitted each year based on demand in American labor markets. Union officials are confident that the result would reduce worker immigration during times of high unemployment like the present. . . .
Thousands of immigrant farm workers and other low-wage laborers come to the United States through seasonal guest-worker programs that are subject to numerical visa limits and have been criticized by employers as rigid and inefficient. Many unions oppose the programs because the immigrants are tied to one employer and cannot change jobs no matter how abusive the conditions, so union officials say they undercut conditions for American workers. Highly skilled foreign technology engineers and medical specialists also come on temporary visas.
Advocates for immigrants said a unified labor movement could substantially bolster their position as they push for legislation to restructure the ailing immigration system. . . . A.F.L.-C.I.O. officials said they agreed with Change to Win leaders that, with more than seven million unauthorized immigrants already working across the nation, legalizing their status would be the most effective way to protect labor standards for all workers. . . .
Labor leaders said that they would talk with other groups in coming weeks to nail down details of a common position, and that they would then would work in Congress and with the Obama administration to try to ensure that their proposal was part of any bill offered for debate.
Heaven knows we need to get some sort of immigration reform and that this could certainly help, but I'm not holding my breath.