Don't Require Union Wages for Immigrants

By Furchtgott-Roth, Diana | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, July 3, 2013 | Go to article overview

Don't Require Union Wages for Immigrants


Furchtgott-Roth, Diana, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


Immigration reform as approved by the Senate provides a path to legal status and eventual citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers in America, adds biometric verification for visitors entering and leaving the country, and expands visas for skilled and unskilled workers, all worthy goals.

But the bill's bureaucratic wage provisions encourage illegal immigration by setting wages for immigrants above their true wage. This must be fixed in the House. If employers are required to pay immigrants inflated wages, firms will be tempted to hire off the books, or not at all.

Let employers decide what wages to pay and give immigrants the freedom to change jobs if they think they're underpaid. That will prevent employers from using immigrants to undercut Americans' wages.

The immigration bill states that "the Secretary of Labor shall make available to employers a governmental survey to determine the prevailing wage." But the Labor Department has no reliable way of determining prevailing wages.

In the Occupational Employment Statistics survey published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics discussed here, employers classify their workers into 12 wage categories, but they do not report the skills that go into each category. Further, wages do not include bonuses, overtime, or benefits.

That makes it difficult to assign the right value to a particular individual, such as a recent college graduate with a computer science degree, with a prevailing wage.

Under the provisions of the bill, the Labor Secretary is supposed to provide employers with averages of wages surveyed -- the average of all wages, the average of the lower two-thirds, and the average of the upper two-thirds.

Employers must pay potential immigrants either one of the averages calculated by the Labor Secretary, or the actual wages paid to other workers with similar characteristics, whichever is higher. …

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