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Mexican migrant worker Javier Gonzalez and his wife Guadalupe pick watermelons in Dome Valley near Yuma, Arizona June 18, 2008. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri
The deal the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce reached on a new guest worker program for non-seasonal, non-agricultural workers may not be far enough right for Republicans, it turns out. I'll repeat: The Chamber of Commerce's deal isn't skewed enough to employers and to the creation of a giant enough pool of cheap labor to make Republicans happy.
The AFL-CIO/Chamber of Commerce agreement allowed 200,000 low-skilled foreign workers into the U.S. The construction industry would get no more than 15,000 visas a year.

Republicans involved in the negotiations told POLITICO they could not support an “artificial cap” on the number of work visas the government could issue. They would seek to match the visa amount with market demand. The group also has not hashed out an agreement on agricultural workers.

Bear in mind, the AFL-CIO/Chamber agreement also doesn't allow the number of guest worker visas to go below 20,000. But despite high unemployment in the real world, Republicans are worried about an "artificial cap" on the number of guest worker visas allowed, not about an artificial floor. (Okay, duh, obviously.)

Since the deal involves adjusting the number of guest worker visas allowed according to economic indicators like unemployment, are the Republicans for whom 200,000 new guest workers are not enough imagining that the U.S. will get to full employment sometime in the foreseeable future? Or are they just figuring that they can get around the prevailing wage part of the agreement, and get around the way the number of visas is pegged to economic indicators, but a hard ceiling on the maximum number of visas is the one thing they won't be able to get around in flooding the U.S. with vulnerable guest workers ripe for employer abuse?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 08:04 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Invisible People, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  "The AFL-CIO/Chamber of Commerce agreement" (8+ / 0-)

    That's a head spinning sentence all by itself.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 08:12:19 AM PDT

    •  Which one is representing the American worker? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      My guess is neither.

      The AFL-CIO in supporting amnesty is opposing the American worker and decent wages.

      Supply and demand - increase the supply, decrease teh demand.

      You got a job?

      •  I disagree. (0+ / 0-)

        1. When undocumented immigrants work, they can't claim the protection of laws setting minimum protections for wages, hours, workplace safety, workers' comp, much less health coverage. And that drives down wages and benefits for everyone in their industry, even citizens. Bring the undocumented into the legal workforce, and those competitive pressures to mistreat all workers are greatly lessened.

        2. The idea that there is a fixed # of jobs is a fallacy. More people = more customers as well as more workers. And if the additional workers must be paid more, that will get more money out of corporate coffers and into circulation, helping the economy and creating jobs.

        3. Undocumented immigrants and their families are human beings. They are just as deserving of having decent homes, enough to eat, etc. as anyone else. The idea that American citizens deserve to live better simply by virtue of being born American is morally corrosive.

        "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

        by HeyMikey on Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 06:13:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Zero-sum game (0+ / 0-)

          Geezus, you need to get an education. Jobs are zero-sum. One job given to a scab from India is one less job for a deserving American kid.

          •  Please stop personal attacks. Not zero-sum. (0+ / 0-)

            I have not attacked you personally. You should refrain from attacking others here personally.

            But on the subject of my education, I have read this:

            In economics, the lump of labour fallacy (or lump of jobs fallacy) is the contention that the amount of work available to labourers is fixed. It is considered a fallacy by most economists,[1] who hold that the amount of work is not static. Another way to describe the fallacy is that it treats the demand for labour as an exogenous variable, when it is not. It may also be called the fallacy of labour scarcity, or the zero-sum fallacy.
            Consider that studies show hikes in the minimum wage do not, within reason, reduce the number of minimum-wage jobs. I assume you have no quarrel with that. Then it should be virtually self-evident that increasing the minimum wage actually increases the number of jobs in the economy, since it increases the disposable income of minimum-wage workers, increasing demand.

            If you agree with that, then you agree that the number of jobs is not fixed.

            "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

            by HeyMikey on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:44:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  in fact (0+ / 0-)

            there are a lot of people from India who are being hurt by this H1-B crap.  It's even more fun for them.  Companies will call in a person for an interview because they can tell the last name is Indian.  But as soon as the company finds out that the person is a citizen and not an H1-B, they are shown the door.  

            The people on H1-B that annoy me the most are the white guys from the UK and other European countries.  What on earth are they doing here????

        •  hmm... (0+ / 0-)

          You are absolutely right about undocumented immigrants needing protection and being human beings.   In an ideal world, I would agree with you.

          But what ends up happening in this county is that the undocumented immigrants end up being used by Congress for their own purposes.  These people may or may not end up with the wages and benefits that they deserve. But when they are allowed to come to the front of the immigration line, it ticks off people who have jumped through the legal hoops to immigrate here, because they did all the right things---and people who didn't jump through those hoops are the ones being "rewarded".  

          I sympathize with immigrants but just like the rest of us, they are being used.

          So even when something happens in Congress where the undocumented immigrants end up getting what they actually deserve, Congress usually kicks in the teeth of somebody else, whether current citizens or people in the legal immigration process.

          The problem with immigration reform is this:  Congress cannot be trusted to do any kind of immigration reform that will really solve the problems because Congress is only interested in serving business and the rich.  

          As far as the lump of labor fallacy goes, economic truisms are true only as long as the circumstances aren't being manipulated to make the truism no longer true.

  •  According To Wiki (5+ / 0-)

    The AFL-CIO represents about 11 million workers. There are currently about 154 million workers in the US workforce.

    Somebody explain to me why the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce are involved in this 'deal' to the extent that they are in the first place?

    I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

    by superscalar on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 08:23:29 AM PDT

  •  Why is there a war on the American worker? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dem Beans, WorkerInUSA, ban nock
    •  And why do so many "democrats" support it? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mimi9, Helpless, dfe

      The fact is that by supporting immigration reform "democrats" support cheap labor, the destruction of the American middle class, and the alienation of blue collar workers.

      We should oppose all cheap labor. We should oppose all illegals immigrants being amnestied.

      We are going to see a massive spike in the unemployment rate when this terrible bill passes.

  •  With 11.8 Million Unemployed (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WorkerInUSA, Dem Beans, dfe, ban nock

    One "Guest" Worker is one too many.

  •  Some Republicans are looking for any excuse (0+ / 0-)

    to oppose immigration reform.

  •  Smallest Problem in Immigration Reform (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Helpless, HeyMikey

    The guest worker program is but a small problem in what could be a huge immigration reform debacle.  The report that the 'Gang of 8' will be unveiling includes things like creating a 13 year path to citizenship for undocumented workers provided that the borders are deemed to be secure by a panel of fed, state and local representatives.  If this group doesn't deem the border secure, no one on this path gets citizenship.  It's absurd -

    On another note, I'm trying to crowd fund a liberal political talk radio station - even a buck helps - check it out if you want at

    Anthony Alexiou, Publisher, I Need Politics - / @INeedPolitics

    by INeedPolitics on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 06:13:36 PM PDT

  •  They outsourced the jobs they could move. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Helpless, WorkerInUSA, ban nock

    Now for the jobs they can't move they want in insource 'guest' workers to further crush our workers by depressing wages.  

    you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

    by Dem Beans on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 06:15:11 PM PDT

    •  What democrat supports unlimited cheap labor? (0+ / 0-)

      Those are the "useful idiots" who are destroying the middle class.

    •  One reason we lose the blue-collar vote (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      is because they are not stupid. The blue collar skilled trades guys (90% guys) know that cheap illegal labor is killing them. And they know that the Democratic party, the party of the "working person", supports the illegal worker over the American blue collar skilled trades worker.

      Every job is filled by one and only one person. The Democratic Party has chosen the illegal laborer over our own brothers.

      It's wrong, and it's stupid.

  •  This deal is far enough left (0+ / 0-)

    and pro-labor enough for the AFL-CIO, that IMHO is far more appalling.

    Good on the Republicans for unknowingly and unintentionally supporting the best interests of the unemployed, former middle class American Citizen. And they don't ask for dues....

  •  Republicans are only interested in (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Helpless, ban nock

       complete Democratic surrender. Anything else is unacceptable. This "deal" is not very good for American workers, but evidently the Repubs need more blood to satisfy their hatred of the worker-class. Their overlords from the 0.1% want the cheapest labor possible.    

  •  What we have here is (0+ / 0-)

    is a government shutdown by Congressional Republicans.  Don't know why no one is calling it that, particularly in the White House.

    "And now we know that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob." -- FDR

    by Mogolori on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 06:24:22 PM PDT

  •  The AFL CIO can go suck eggs (0+ / 0-)

    Trumka is a friggin scab.

    Since when do unions throw workers under the bus?

    When they have the acquiescence of limousine liberals. See that photo up top? My cousins used to do that work in the summers. Hard work. Good work for a high school kid. Farmers had to pay enough to get people to do it.

    A decent wage for a decent days work. Pay enough to support a family.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 07:08:53 PM PDT

  •  They can't let the employers decide (0+ / 0-)

    what is good for employers. Rumsfeld liked telling the generals how to fight wars. They tell women what to do with their bodies. They think teachers and professors are stupid and that scientists are just plain wrong.

    There seems to be a pattern here.

    We have only just begun and none too soon.

    by global citizen on Wed Apr 10, 2013 at 07:13:56 PM PDT

  •  What can possibly go wrong with guest workers? (0+ / 0-)
    How an overseas outsourcing firm managed to get Ottawa’s nod to bring in foreign workers to replace 45 Canadian employees at the Royal Bank has become the centre of an official probe.

    While it is not clear if the temporary foreign workers from India have been working and reporting directly to RBC [Royal Bank of Canada] or iGate, the affected bank employees said they have been asked to train their replacements.
    The fight by two labour unions against a company that hired more than 200 temporary workers from China for its coal mine in northeastern B.C. heads to Federal Court in Vancouver today.
  •  Be Leary of The Chamber of Corruption Unless (0+ / 0-)

    they can show marked course corrections in a direction away from their recent corruption.

    Historically they have gone beyond the pale.

  •  There are no unions anymore because of (0+ / 0-)

    illegal workers. No union construction - you can't keep a union when there is an infinite number of workers.

    Illegals have destroyed the unions. And the new bill will not change that.

    •  Legalize them and that stops. (0+ / 0-)

      Especially if you unionize them, too.

      Get out of the mindset of this worker vs. that worker. Get all workers on one side.

      "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

      by HeyMikey on Thu Apr 11, 2013 at 06:16:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? That's the cheap labor approach (0+ / 0-)

        There are an infinite number of workers. You raise wages by exclusion.

        Are you an educated person? I thought everyone knew that.

        •  Too simplistic. (0+ / 0-)

          Wages are going to fall in any kind of work that can be done in low-wage countries--manufacturing, phone work, increasingly web-based retail, etc. There is little anyone can do about that except try to keep American workers more productive, which is really only a delaying action. The productivity gap between US and foreign workers exists but will likely shrink.

          So we're talking only about wages for workers in industries that cannot be taken offshore. And the number of those workers is not infinite.

          "The true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals." - Barack Obama

          by HeyMikey on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:38:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dean Baker (0+ / 0-)

            argues that many of those problems have to do with the strong dollar policy engineered by Robert Rubin in response to the Asian financial crisis.  A weak dollar would bring the jobs back but businesses would have to pay more for labor and they certainly don't want that.

      •  get all the workers on one side? (0+ / 0-)

        Yeah, sure, unionize and legalize the illegal construction workers so that they can stand with the other unionized workers and watch their jobs get taken over by a brand-new set of illegal workers who aren't unionized and will take lower wages.  

        When I used to read the blogs, maybe, 10 years ago, arguments such as yours used to be taken seriously by a good percentage of the readers.  Now, it's very few.  People have come to realize whose ox is being gored and they don't like it.

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