July 22, 2013
By Neal Tepel
Washington, DC – LIUNA General President Terry O'Sullivan went on the record and sent a letter to the members of Congress writing: "LIUNA opposes RR. 1172, "The Legal Workforce Act" (LWA), among the other Bill which may be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives this month. We believe that its requirement that all U.S. employers use E-Verify within 2 years is unrealistic and rushed.
We also oppose the Act's definition of Local Union hiring halls as employers for the purpose of E-Verify. Local Unions do not employ the workers they dispatch. Rather, they are the legally recognized representatives of those workers. It is, and should remain, the responsibility of the employer to verify employment status…"
*Full Text of the LIUNA General President Terry O'Sullivan Letter to the U.S. House of Representatives:
On behalf of the more than 500,000 members of the Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), I urge you to support comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship and to oppose the bills recently passed out of the Judiciary Committee (RR.s 1172, 1773, 2131, and 2278) because of their flawed, enforcement-centric, piecemeal approaches to immigration reform.
LIUNA supports the comprehensive immigration reform bill passed by the U.S. Senate because it will do a great deal to fix our broken immigration system, protect both immigrant and native-born workers, and provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently in this country. Some members of the House of Representatives insist on an enforcement-first, piecemeal approach that would serve only to exacerbate current immigration problems, force more workers into an underground economy, and lead to further exploitation and abuse. We support strong and humane border enforcement, but only as part of a comprehensive package that provides long-term solutions to this problem.
Should the House decide not to support the Senate-passed Bill, we would urge you to support a comprehensive House bill that includes a pathway to citizenship and a cap on temporary construction workers in addition to any enforcement provisions. None of the bills currently under consideration include these provisions. We are hopeful that the bill being drafted by the Gang of 7 will include these necessary provisions.
As stated above, LIUNA opposes RR. 1172, "The Legal Workforce Act" (LWA), among the other Bills, which may be considered by the U.S. House of Representatives this month. We believe that its requirement that all U.S. employers use E-Verify within 2 years is unrealistic and rushed. We also oppose the Act's definition of Local Union hiring halls as employers for the purpose of E-Verify. Local Unions do not employ the workers they dispatch. Rather, they are the legally recognized representatives of those workers. It is, and should remain, the responsibility of the employer to verify employment status. Moreover, LWA contains no provisions for workers to contest erroneous E-Verify findings, putting hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and work-authorized immigrants at risk of losing their jobs.
Also, as you and your colleagues consider legislation that includes changes to existing worker visa programs in addition to new worker visa programs, LIUNA urges you not to abandon the caps and restrictions put in place by the Senate Bill under the W visa provisions. While we recognize the need to adjust foreign worker flows to enable employers to fill workforce shortages, without adequate worker protections and reasonable restrictions, guest worker programs only erode wages, benefits, and working conditions for both guest workers and U.S. citizens. The Senate Bill's formulas for, and caps on, the new W visa have the support of both labor unions and employer organizations, and the Bill strikes the right balance between workforce need and worker protection.
Currently there is no significant workforce shortage in the construction industry, and construction unemployment is at 9.8 percent. Employers willing to pay a fair wage should have little difficulty in finding qualified workers. The U.S. construction industry needs new jobs that build a strong middle class, not new guest workers paid low wages that drive all workers into poverty.
One hundred and ten (110) years ago, a small group of hard working, mostly immigrant hod carriers and building laborers stood up for their rights and established our Union. They and their descendants provided the life blood of this Union, and this country. Today, LIUNA is proud to count many new immigrants among our members, and as our brothers and sisters. We support a comprehensive, compassionate approach to immigration reform and a clear path to citizenship because it is sensible, practical, moral, and just. We call on you and your colleagues in the House of Representatives to do the same.
With kind regards,
I am Sincerely yours,
Teryy O'Sullivan General President