AFL-CIO reaches agreement with Chamber of Commerce on guest workers

Richard Trumka and Tom Donohue - respective heads of the AFL CIO and US Chamber of Commerce - have released a "Joint Statement of Shared Principles" on a guest workers program.

For the background and what you can do, see "Unions join with bosses in reckless disregard of workers".

Here are the relevant portions of today's joint press release:

First, American workers should have a first crack at available jobs. To that end, business and labor are committed to improving the way that information about job openings in lesser-skilled occupations reaches the maximum number of workers, particularly those in disadvantaged communities.

Second, there are instances – even during tough economic times – when employers are not able to fill job openings with American workers. Those instances will surely increase as the economy improves, and when they occur, it is important that our laws permit businesses to hire foreign workers without having to go through a cumbersome and inefficient process. Our challenge is to create a mechanism that responds to the needs of business in a market-driven way, while also fully protecting the wages and working conditions of U.S. and immigrant workers. Among other things, this requires a new kind of worker visa program that does not keep all workers in a permanent temporary status, provides labor mobility in a way that still gives American workers a first shot at available jobs, and that automatically adjusts as the American economy expands and contracts.

Third, we need to fix the system so that it is much more transparent, which requires that we build a base of knowledge using real-world data about labor markets and demographics. The power of today's technology enables us to use that knowledge to craft a workable demand-driven process fed by data that will inform how America addresses future labor shortages. We recognize that there is no simple solution to this issue. We agree that a professional bureau in a federal executive agency, with political independence analogous to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, should be established to inform Congress and the public about these issues.

Regarding their first point, corrupt businesses already take steps to make sure that Americans aren't given "first crack at available jobs"; for an example, see the video on the skilled immigration page. Rather than fighting those corrupt businesses, the AFL-CIO is giving them what they want: a greater labor supply and thus lower wages.

Their second point is the jobs Americans wont do canard: there are no such jobs, employers just don't want to pay enough or their safety standards are too lows. Yet again, the AFL-CIO is giving those employers what they want rather than fighting for higher wages under better conditions.

What exactly they mean by "does not keep all workers in a permanent temporary status" isn't clear, but perhaps they mean that our "guests" wouldn't actually be guests but some or many would be able to stay here permanently.

Regarding their third point, the BLS just processes data, it doesn't make recommendations. Given the billions of dollars that would be involved, anyone working for their new agency would feel a tremendous amount of political pressure to cave to what big business (and their labor union allies) want.

If you want to do something about this, see the previous post.

2/22/13 UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal thinks what they left out is more important ( ):

Leading business and union groups announced agreement Thursday on principles to guide talks on immigration legislation, but they failed to resolve some of their most contentious disputes.

The groups had hoped to negotiate a united position on rules governing the future entry into the U.S. of low-skilled workers - one of many issues that lawmakers and outside groups are trying to work through as Congress considers a broad overhaul of immigration laws.

The lack of agreement between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO means that senators attempting to write an immigration bill will have to find a compromise on their own on the flow of foreign workers into the country. The lawmakers had hoped for a unified recommendation from the chamber and the labor organization.

But, they shouldn't be agreeing in the first place. While workers and bosses need to work together, labor unions shouldn't be helping corporations in a beyond-obvious attempt to lower wages and worsen working conditions.