AJ Kern—“a politically engaged resident of Sauk Rapids” who publishes a column for the St. Cloud Times (SCTimes)—recently argued that worker visas and the Trade Pacific Partnership (TPP) threaten American workers.
Kern writes that the H-1B visa program and TPP are products of politicians and corporate lobbyists who are:
Arrogantly ignoring the destruction left in the wake of a kaleidoscope of temptations, corporate contributions to political elites solidify politicians’ barricades against would-be challengers, while corporate giants exploit cheap labor provided by immigration and refugee resettlement policies.
And, if you thought the highly skilled technologically educated American workers were safe … guess again.
Kern elaborates on a problem facing many American workers who are displaced, due to cheap foreign workers, by corporations.
“The H-1B program was intended to allow companies to fill positions that could not be filled by qualified Americans,” Kern wrote. “Additionally, U.S. workers’ wages and working conditions were not to be adversely affected by the program.”
Kern argues corporate lawyers find loopholes to fill H-1B visa qualifications and outlines in her column how U.S. companies sidestep laws that forbid displacement of U.S. workers.
“Technically, H-1B visa workers are supplied to American companies as subcontractors through shell companies who employ them (e.g. Tata). Protections intended for American workers, applicable to employees, are not applicable to subcontractors. It’s how workers are classified,” Kern explains.
Unlikely political bedfellows—Republicans Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT); and Democrats Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Chris Coons, Richard Blumenthal, and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton—wish to increase H-1B visas.
The same can be said for the Trans Pacific Partnership where Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) are supporting TPP being pushed by Democratic President Obama.
“I never thought I would agree with Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but so does Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions. Both have read TPP and believe it would undermine U.S. sovereignty. Sessions asserts immigration and globalization are lowering American wages and employment,” Kern wrote.
Kern points to Citizen.org, which reports that TPP isn’t just about trade.
“Of the 29 draft chapters, only five deal with trade. “One chapter would provide incentives to offshore jobs to low-wage countries.” And, letting no good deed go unpunished, “Our federal, state and local policies would be required to comply with (international) TPP rules.”
Congress recently gave Obama fast-track trade authority through Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to finalize his trade deals—including TPP.
With fast-track authority, Congress doesn’t get to add any amendments to the trade deal, it only gets an up or down vote on the negotiation.
“Only time will tell how trade agreements made by Obama will affect income inequality and the American worker,” wrote Kern. “Like a replay of a bad movie — ‘We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.’ Only, the characters have changed to protect the guilty.”