Guest Worker Programs Hurt American Workers
Last month, the country’s two major unions, A.F.L.-C.I.O. and Change to Win, announced their support for immigration reform. Both unions support reform that provides a path to citizenship for undocumented workers and oppose any new guest worker program.
If the unions think they’re going to push a bill through without the support of the business community, they’re crazy. As part of the trade-off for legalization, we need to expand the temporary worker program.
The tension over a guest worker program is clear.
As DMI has argued before, a guest worker program does not benefit American workers. Guest worker programs institutionalize a second-class labor market in which temporary workers are bound to one employer and cannot look for another job, even when working under abusive conditions. According to a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center, guest workers are usually cheated out of wages, denied medical benefits for on- the-job injuries, and held captive by employers or labor recruiters who seize their identity documents. Guest workers’ vulnerability in the workplace weakens conditions for all workers.
Our workforce will only benefit from an immigration reform policy that enables all workers, regardless of immigration status, to compete on an even playing field and assert their rights in the workplace.