CHICAGO As the House and
Senate mull proposals for immigration reform, some trade groups
have evinced general support for reform while others are
holding back as they wait to see what emerges.
The Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based
Metals Service Center Institute "supports the broad concept of
immigration reform to help our members provide for their
employment needs," MSCI vice president of finance and
government affairs Jonathan Kalkwarf said. "Service centers
require a skilled work force to compete in the global
marketplace and must be able to attract and invest in the most
motivated and innovative workers." But until actual proposals
are in place, "we have not taken a formal position on any
reform is good for manufacturers, good for the economy and good
for the fabric of America," Washington-based National
Association of Manufacturers president and chief executive
officer Jay Timmons said in a statement earlier this year. "We
are bogged down by a broken system that prevents manufacturers
from hiring the best people and keeps millions of people living
on the edges of society."
"While we are still analyzing
the potential impacts of immigration reform, (our) members are
currently affected by a skills gap in manufacturing," said Adam
Parr, vice president of policy and communications at the Steel
Manufacturers Association, Washington. "Continued innovations
in technology have changed the educational and skill
requirements needed to work in a steel mill, and there is a
shortage of qualified, skilled and competent employees in trade
positions. The skills gap contributes to the hiring challenges
facing the industry, leaving many job openings unfilled."
"Our priority issues are trade,
tax, energy, environment/regulation, infrastructure, and work
force policy and safety," a spokeswoman for the
Washington-based American Iron and Steel Institute told
AMM, noting that the group doesnt have a policy
statement on immigration.
The Institute of Scrap Recycling
Industries, Washington, also doesnt have a stated policy
on the subject, president Robin K. Wiener said.
Immigration reform is "not
something weve taken a position on," a spokesman for the
Aluminum Association, Arlington, Va., told AMM. "We
dont think its an issue that will have a unique
impact on our industry."
Its too early for leaders
at the Independence, Ohio-based Precision Metalforming
Association to assess "whether we would agree or disagree with
any of the current proposals floating in D.C.," president
William Gaskin said.
A spokesman for the Alliance for
American Manufacturing, Washington, which represents metal
producers and labor, declined to comment.
The American Federation of Labor
and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), Washington,
is said to be talking to members of Congress.
AFL-CIO president Richard L.
Trumka supports reforms. Employers have "access to a
hard-working, insecure and underpaid pool of workers. If those
workers make any noise at all about forming a union on the job,
employers are only too happy to prove that deportation is only
a phone call away," he said last month at an immigration
campaign event in Chicago.
Douglas R. Oberhelman, chairman
and chief executive officer of Peoria, Ill.-based heavy
equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., recently called for
immigration reform in a speech to the Illinois Business
Immigration Coalition in Chicago. He noted that the United
States needs an immigration policy that will help it stay
globally competitive (
amm.com, April 4).