On Friday night Thomas J. Donohue, the president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, and Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s main federation of labor unions, agreed in principle on a guest worker program for low-skilled, year-round temporary workers. The eight Senate negotiators still need to formally sign off on the deal between the business and labor groups, but they are expected to do so by the end of the weekend. Below are highlights of the deal, and for an AFL-CIO fact sheet detailing the agreement in principle please click here.
Highlights of the Deal
- The deal would create a new visa program, the “W Visa Program,” which would begin in April 2015. That program would allow employers to petition for lesser-skilled foreign workers for non-seasonal, non-agricultural jobs such as retail, janitorial, and construction jobs. The visa would not be temporary, workers would not be tied to a single employer and they would be allowed to petition for permanent status after one year.
- Guest workers would be paid the higher of the prevailing industry wage or the actual employer wage used previously in the guest worker program.
- Low-skilled construction workers will be included in the visa program, the nation’s construction unions persuaded the negotiators to exclude certain types of high-skilled jobs — like crane-operators and electricians — from the program, officials involved in the talks said.
- The program would start at 20,000 visas, rising to 35,000 visas in the second year, 55,000 in the third and 75,000 in the fourth. In the fifth year, the program would expand or shrink based on the unemployment rate, the ratio of job openings to unemployed workers and various other factors. The agreement calls for a maximum of 200,000 guest visas granted each year.
- One third of all visas available in any given year would go to businesses with fewer than 25 employees. No more than 15,000 visas per year would go to construction occupations.