- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2013

The AFL-CIO has struck a deal on immigration reform with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that eases the path for temporary workers and pushes for creation of a new federal agency.

The two groups have been in stalemate on immigration talks for weeks.

Thursday, they found common ground on three principles.

The first: U.S. workers should maintain “first crack” at open jobs. the business and labor groups said they are committed to improving ways that information about lesser-skilled jobs reached the domestic work force.

The second: An agreement in principle — that U.S. businesses do in fact need immigrant workers to fill certain jobs. When employers can’t fill jobs with American workers, the groups are pushing for a new 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.”

And the third: Any immigration reform demands transparency, and a solution based on actual data and truthful statistics.

The greatest point of agreement, however, is that both groups saw the need for more executive action on immigration.

They suggest the creation of a new, politically independent federal agency — similar to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — that would use “real-world data” about labor markets and demographics to inform Congress and the public about how best to deal with labor shortages.

“We are now in the middle — not the end — of this process, and we pledge to continue to work together and with our allies and our representatives on Capitol Hill to finalize a solution that is in the interest of this country we all love,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Thomas J. Donohue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in the joint statement.

Staff writer Sean Lengell contributed to this report.



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