(WASHINGTON) – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters supports a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented men and women already living and working in this country.
Keeping these workers in the shadows would continue their exploitation and the downward pressure on wages and labor standards. Bringing them out of the shadows is good policy.
We applaud the Senate for moving America closer to that goal. We also support the Senate bill’s provision of an expedited path to citizenship for our nation’s “Dreamers,” who are already citizens in every way that matters and deserve to have all of the same rights and opportunities enjoyed by U.S.-born children.
However, efforts to gain more than the 60 votes necessary to pass the legislation resulted in a bill that’s worse than the Gang of Eight’s original proposal in April. It’s especially bad for workers in fields that are eligible for H-1B visas. There is no room for further compromise in this effort.
We recognize that the W-Visa program outlined in the bill is far different from past guest worker programs and includes a number of key protections for domestic and foreign workers alike. However, the Teamsters Union simply cannot endorse the idea that there are jobs that U.S. workers will not do, especially when those jobs are defined to include skilled building and construction trades, heavy tractor-trailer truck drivers, locomotive engineers, nurses and teachers’ assistants and more.
We do not have a shortage of ready and willing U.S. workers in this country. What we have is a shortage of employers willing to pay a family-sustaining wage, provide a safe work environment and invest in worker training. The solution to those problems is not to bring in more foreign workers.
Realistically, there is still a long road ahead for this legislation, with a great deal that is still unknown. As the House moves forward on immigration reform, we will continue to work to make sure the final bill includes a workable path to citizenship, protects U.S. workers from unfair displacement, and truly secures our borders.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.