Trumka: Immigration Talks with Chamber of Commerce 'Going Well'

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is boasting that the negotiations he is conducting with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce regarding immigration reform are “going well.”

The AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which both represent labor, are trying to cajole the Chamber, which represents business, to come along with their plans for temporary workers.

Trumka was confident that this time, unlike 2007 when talks failed because there was not enough common ground regarding temporary workers, things would go smoothly, saying, “I think they are going well. We have been working in good faith with the Chamber, and I continue to be hopeful.”

Trumka is pushing Tom Donohue, the Chamber’s president and CEO, to accept the need for “a data-driven system” which would decide where temporary workers are needed.

Instead of a system being out there that’s the whim of any employer, it would be a data-driven system by an independent group that would decide if there are shortages and where they are. In the meantime, that would take a little while to set up… We would have a transitional system of visas in the meantime to meet shortages… until that data-driven system is set up.

Trumka’s proposal is roughly what the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win labor federation tried to push in August 2009.

Big Labor is gearing up to push the idea; the AFL-CIO is planning 14 major events to launch the initiative in major cities in the next month. Maria Elena Durazo, executive secretary-treasurer for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said:

Remember how labor helped pass healthcare reform, how we helped elect and reelect President Obama? That's exactly how we are going to help pass sensible, humane immigration reform with citizenship for over 11 million people. That's exactly the field mobilization campaign that we’re launching and it's proof of the AFL-CIO's commitment.

There is no word yet on just who would constitute the “independent group” that Trumka espouses.


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