Joe Moneybags Gazette:
The bipartisan Gang of Eight Senate talks on immigration are continuing, with avowals that a deal is done or close to it. But we also keep hearing that it may not include a flexible guest-worker program rooted in the realities of the U.S. labor market, and that some Republicans may nonetheless go along for the ride.
Specifically, the AFL-CIO has been insisting on a guest program for low-skilled workers to start at a mere 10,000 visas a year, and the Senators may agree on as few as 20,000. These would be the total number of visas for workers across the entire U.S. economy outside of high-tech or agriculture—the likes of construction, hotels and restaurants, landscaping, among so many others. To put that in perspective, in 2011 the U.S. admitted more than two million temporary workers in a work force of 154 million.
The total number of guest-worker visas would be able to climb in any year to a cap of 200,000, but any number above 20,000 would require passing a complex bureaucratic formula. The details remain fluid, but we hear they may include a low national jobless rate, job openings as measured by the Labor Department’s JOLTS index, and vetting by a new guest-worker commission. The lowest priority under this formula would be what should be the most important—whether an employer is recruiting to fill an open job.
The new commission is especially pernicious because it amounts to a politicized mechanism for unions to interfere in the U.S. labor market. Such a body is sure to be dominated by union appointees or allies who would rarely if ever declare a labor shortage. A major goal of any guest-worker program should be to match employers with willing workers to keep the economy humming, but the last thing unions want is more non-union workers. That’s why unions are also pushing for excessive wage minimums and fees for guest workers.
Immigrant workers and unions are natural born enemies, yet the Democrats have somehow managed to successfully be both pro-union and pro-immigration at the same time. That’s a pretty good trick but sooner or later something had to give.
Unions depend on captive employers when they negotiate for wages and benefits. If employers can easily hire replacement workers (“scabs”) then strikes (or threats thereof) will fail. Historically, immigrants are a primary source of scabs.
Of course when push comes to shove, the unions are gonna win. Union members can (legally) vote, immigrant guest-workers can’t.
Unfortunately for the Republicans they are in no position to exploit this situation.