Jobs and Careers

Guest Worker Program a "Gold Mine" for Employers

| by AFL-CIO

In the midst of a recession and nearly 10 percent official unemployment, thousands of workers are being brought from overseas to work at jobs that employers say no American wants. In a hard-hitting report, veteran

journalist Dan Rather takes a look at the H2B visa program and exposes how employers use it to avoid hiring American workers–and keep wages low.

On Dan Rather Reports, which aired last night on HDnet, Rather talks to employers, guest workers and human rights advocates about the H2B visa program, which allows employers to hire temporaryworkers from foreign countries for jobs they say they can find no qualified or willing American workers to do.  Labor attorney Greg Schell tells Rather it has become a gold mine for employers:

It’s an employer’s dream. I can go to a Third World country and select the workers I want. And they’re gonna come here and they can only work for me. So if I treat them poorly or if they want a raise or more benefits I can just say, “Well, sorry. I’m not gonna give it to you. And if you don’t like it you have only one legal choice. Go home.”

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The program also allows employers to drive down the wages, Schell says:

It is outrageous and unacceptable. Business left to its own devices will try to employ abor at the lowest possible cost. The wage that is paid the H2B worker becomes not the floor, it becomes the ceiling. The employer knows that he can get an unlimited supply of workers at that price without any benefits; he will never have to pay a penny more.  

The AFL-CIO backs strong protections for immigrant workers’ freedoms and rights and opposes current guest worker programs. In policy statements, the AFL-CIO Executive Council has said future workers should come to this country with full rights, not as temporary workers.

You can download a transcript of last night’s program “Take This Job and Love It” here. Click on transcript 530.