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Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka On Senate Vote Undermining American Tech Workers

The labor movement has no higher priority in 2013 than a workable immigration system that will allow 11 million aspiring Americans to become citizens. That’s why labor has been working tirelessly with faith groups, DREAMers, and the civil rights community to ensure that we move forward this year and create a roadmap to citizenship.

The progress on this bill so far has been commendable. With the hard work of so many for so long, our broad and diverse coalition has become unstoppable.

There is no reason why this strong coalition should accept anti-worker amendments. And let’s be clear: Senator Orrin Hatch’s H-1B amendments are unambiguous attacks on American workers.

Hatch’s amendments change the bill so that high tech companies could functionally bring in H-1B visa holders without first making the jobs available to American workers. Hatch’s amendments would mean that American corporations could fire American workers in order to bring in H-1B visa holders at lower wages.

The next Sergei Brin might be sitting in an American classroom right now. But if that future innovator cannot get an entry-level job in high tech because employers prefer importing temporary workers, entrepreneurial innovations will not occur in the United States.  

Tech tycoons like Larry Ellison and Mark Zuckerberg have gotten rich while wages in the technology sector have stagnated. Today’s H-1B amendments have passed on the same day that Apple’s CEO is testifying about Apple’s multi-billion dollar tax avoidance schemes. If the hard work of America’s tech workers is ever to pay off, we need to craft policy that benefits the people who actually write code, rather than just rewarding industry honchos who write checks to politicians. Our goal should be an America in which our young tech workers can pay off their student loans, not one in which Larry Ellison can build ever more extravagant yachts. We expect better, we deserve better, and if necessary, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, we will get better.

We are thankful that the Senate Judiciary Committee is likely to report out a bill today that supports a real roadmap to citizenship. We will continue to work with our allies to pass immigration reform with a roadmap to citizenship in 2013.

Contact: Jeff Hauser (202) 637-5018

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