Alabama Senator Richard Shelby Sells Out American Construction Workers in Favor of Foreign Imports

Jun 14, 2012, 16:16 ET from Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Alabama Republican Senator Richard Shelby spearheaded an effort to put in jeopardy the wages and jobs of all construction workers in the United States. 

On a 19 to 11 vote, the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations voted on an amendment offered by Senator Shelby (R-Alabama) to remove language from the Labor HHS appropriations bill that will now facilitate the ability of employers to import foreign workers into the United States under the H2B guest worker program to do construction work at below prevailing wages, thereby undercutting local standards. 

"This is nothing short of outrageous," said Sean McGarvey, President of the Building and Construction Trades Department.  "At a time when roughly 1.4 million American construction workers are unemployed, Senator Shelby deems it appropriate to make it even easier to import foreign construction workers.  Where is the shame?  Where is the outrage? Does he truly believe there are no American workers willing and able to fill these jobs?"

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) included language in the Labor HHS appropriations bill that exempted the construction industry from the restriction of funds to enforce certain H2B wage rules that would ensure that employers could not avoid the recruitment and wage standards of American workers when utilizing the H2B visa process.   The restriction of funds for the enforcement of certain H2B wage rules should not apply to construction, as most objective observers realize that with a national unemployment rate twice the national average, the construction industry needed such protections against an influx of foreign workers and was fully capable of fulfilling these needs with domestic workers.

"The Shelby Amendment has effectively incentivized the importation of foreign workers into an already devastated U.S. construction industry," said McGarvey.  "He is simply rubbing salt into the wounds of American construction workers."

The Building and Construction Trades Department is an alliance of 13 national and international unions that collectively represent over 2 million skilled craft professionals in the United States and Canada

SOURCE Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO