CHICAGO The United Steelworkers union supports immigration reform and believes that a sensible change in policy would benefit the metals industry and the broader economy, a USW official said.
"Im a member of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, and I support their call for comprehensive immigration reform," USW international vice president for human affairs Fred Redmond told AMM.
The AFL-CIO, which represents 57 labor groups, this month launched a campaign for "commonsense immigration reform with a realistic and workable roadmap to citizenship."
Redmond said he hopes any reform legislation coming out of Congress will ensure that work visas are "issued in a practical way, and not used to drive wages down in the United States. There should be an independent market commission that would provide a secure authorization method based on labor market shortages and where the actual need is."
Fixing immigration would help boost the nations gross domestic product (GDP), Redmond said, citing research by the federal government and economists that reform could raise the GDP 0.8 to 1.3 percent by 2016; boost patent applications and lead to home-grown innovation; increase business start-ups, including venture-capital-funded public companies; increase demand for locally produced goods; and help bilateral trade, especially in the North American Free Trade Agreement region.
"With an immigration system that makes sense, Mexico can become a true trading partner and break down some barriers in the trading system," Redmond said. He also called for "rational and humane" control of the borders.
"We also think that a comprehensive, sensible policy will help employers get rid of E-Verify (a document-check program) and some administrative burdens. Its a win-win," he said.
Redmond estimated that at least 20 percent of USW members are immigrants, primarily from Mexico but also from Europe and Asia.