According to inside sources, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) negotiated a deal between U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donahue and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on a compromise guest worker program that will be part of compromise immigration reform that Schumer and the rest of the "Gang of Eight" will introduce on the week of April 8, once the Senate is back from recess.
Here's the key reason why agreement a comprehensive immigration reform package had been held up:
The AFL-CIO and the Chamber had been fighting over wages for tens of thousands of low-skilled workers who would be brought in under the new program to fill jobs in construction, hotels and resorts, nursing homes and restaurants, and other industries.Here's how the guest worker program in the immigration reform bill will work:
Under the emerging agreement between business and labor, a new "W" visa program would bring tens of thousands of lower-skilled workers a year to the country. The program would be capped at 200,000 a year, but the number of visas would fluctuate, depending on unemployment rates, job openings, employer demand and data collected by a new federal bureau pushed by the labor movement as an objective monitor of the market.I want to send a clear message to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who regards immigration as his signature issue: We have a REAL statesman, who is willing to sit down with key power players to negotiate a compromise on a guest worker program that is part of a comprehensive immigration reform package, in OUR party. Senator Rubio, if you take credit for what Senator Schumer done to help negotiate a deal on immigration reform, I will point to this diary and call you out for lying.
The workers would be able to change jobs and could seek permanent residency. Under current temporary worker programs, personnel can't move from employer to employer and have no path to permanent U.S. residence and citizenship. And currently there's no good way for employers to bring many low-skilled workers to the U.S. An existing visa program for low-wage nonagricultural workers is capped at 66,000 per year and is supposed to apply only to seasonal or temporary jobs.
The Chamber of Commerce said workers would earn actual wages paid to American workers or the prevailing wages for the industry they're working in, whichever is higher. The Labor Department determines prevailing wage based on customary rates in specific localities, so that it varies from city to city.
Also, Senator Rubio, you, and some of your fellow Republicans, were already blaming Big Labor for derailing immigration reform not too long ago. Guess who brought Big Business and Big Labor to the table to negotiate a compromise on a key part of comprehensive immigration reform: Senator Schumer!
Senator Rubio, stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it!