originally posted on The Economic Populist
This is a very important amendment where finally U.S. workers might get some results to stop global labor arbitrage.
In response to the Associated Press investigation that TARP bail out recipients were firing Americans while hiring foreign guest workers, Senators Bernie Sanders and Chuck Grassley are offering an amendment, S.AMDT.306, to demand these bank recipients of U.S. taxpayer dollars hire U.S. workers and stop this horrific practice of labor arbitrage.
Two senators on Wednesday proposed requiring bailed-out banks to hire only Americans for one year, after an investigation by The Associated Press showed that banks receiving the most federal aid had requested visas for thousands of foreign workers even as they laid off employees amid the economic collapse.
The legislation by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, would apply to more than 200 banks that have accepted the government's aid. They would be barred from hiring foreigners who hold special visas that are reserved for certain skilled and advanced-degree jobs. Both senators are longtime critics of abuses they see in the visa program.
"It is obscene and vulgar for these huge banks getting taxpayer bailouts to use the bailouts to throw American workers on the street and bring in foreign workers," Sanders said.
This is a very important amendment for the question is will the Senate plain stand up for American labor, for the United States middle class, working America? The answer is obvious, Jobs in America should first and foremost go to Americans and this is particularly true when those jobs are funded by the very taxes these fired workers paid.
The corporate lobbyists as well as the hordes of immigration attorneys who make their living by trading cheap foreign guest workers will be on fire trying to stop this amendment.
Make no mistake, these jobs are not skills that cannot be found in the United States. In fact many of the U.S. workers have to train their replacement. Obviously the fact Americans must train their replacement before being fired says quite clearly they do have the skills to do these jobs.
So, if you believe that U.S. taxpayer dollars should be used for putting to work U.S. workers...please call your Senators and request they support this amendment.
The amendment text is quite simple and uploaded here.
Senator Sanders has now issued a press release:
An investigation by The Associated Press found that banks receiving the biggest bailouts requested visas for thousands of foreign workers while laying off American employees. Legislation by Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) would require the bailed-out banks to hire only Americans for one year. "It is obscene and vulgar for these huge banks getting taxpayer bailouts to use the bailouts to throw American workers on the street and bring in foreign workers," Sanders told AP. Banks accepting taxpayer bailouts should first hire laid-off American banking workers, he said. The legislation, Sanders added, was in response to the investigation which revealed that the dozen banks now receiving more than $150 billion in bailouts requested visas for more than 21,800 foreign workers over the past six years for high-paying jobs.Here are Senators Sanders & Grassley floor speech introduction of this important amendment:
In a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders said the American people are furious that a handful of Wall Street executives through their greed, recklessness and possible illegal behavior have plunged us into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
“The Treasury Department has provided the largest financial institutions in this country hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars with more to come. The Federal Reserve has also committed over $2.3 trillion in taxpayer dollars to these financial institutions with the possibility of trillions more to come.
“These banks haven’t used taxpayer money to unfreeze the credit markets. They haven’t significantly increased lending to consumers and small businesses. They have used taxpayer money to reward executives with hundreds of millions in compensation. They continue to pay dividends to their shareholders and have made risky acquisitions.
“But there is one thing that these financial institutions are trying to do to save money. During the last three months of 2008, the largest banks in this country have announced 100,000 in job cuts. That’s 100,000 American workers who will be out on the street. The CEOs at most of these firms are still on the job.
“Adding insult to injury, while these banks have announced massive lay-offs, they have requested H-1B visas for more than 21,000 foreign workers over the past six years.
“The amendment that I am offering today with Senator Grassley is simple and it is straightforward.
“At a time when the largest banks in this country have caused the worst financial crisis in our country’s history; and at a time when we are losing millions of decent-paying jobs; this amendment says to the big banks that you can’t add fuel to the fire by throwing American workers out on the street while hiring cheaper labor from overseas.
"Specifically, this amendment prohibits banks that have received a taxpayer bail-out from the U.S. Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve from hiring H-1B guest-workers from overseas."
Senator Grassley is putting forth a very important point on the United States immigration policy as a general principle. The United States immigration policy is not designed, nor should it hurt the United States worker.
Thank you Senators Sanders and Grassley!