U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Unions agree on immigration reform

They want to evaluate foreign labor

WASHINGTON. - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and one of the largest unions in the country, AFL-CIO, agreed on common principles that they considered should guide the efforts of the White House and Congress for an immigration reform.

After months of talks, both the business sector and the union now agreed on the need to create an office within a federal agency dedicated to assessing labor shortages, and help determine when foreign workers should be admitted into the country for skilled jobs.

President of the Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donohue, and the president of the AFL-CIO, Richard Trumka, outlined in a statement three principles for the reform process which was initiated by the Obama administration and Congress.

"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. "

Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the lawmakers involved in the reform process, welcomed the agreement, but said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Alex Conant, that there is "much more work to do" to "end this process with an effective guest worker program."

Rubio is part of a bipartisan group that has outlined proposals that include conditions for nearly 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, which also includes a path towards citizenship that is now up for debate.



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