Rare Win for American Workers

Published on September 17th, 2015

Victories over corporations that abuse immigration law to hire cheap labor are few and far between. When they occur, as happened in August, they should be celebrated.

Last month, I wrote about a pending National Relations Board decision that could block the common practice of corporations claiming that personnel placement agencies bear the responsibility to check workers’ immigration status before sending them to the job site. This allowed major employers like Wal-Mart to profit from the cheap labor without risking fees and penalties from immigration authorities.

NLRB: “Joint Employers,” staffing agencies responsible
for checking workers’ immigration status.

But in the Browning-Ferris Industries of California case, the NLRB ruled that BFI is a “joint employer” with the staffing agency. While the BFI case was not directly about immigration, but rather about low wages, Social Security and Medicare taxes, worker’s compensation premiums and unemployment insurance taxes, the “joint employer” provision means that the company is equally responsible for assuring that its employees are legally authorized to work in the United States, a condition that mandatory E-Verify would simplify.

For 30 years, corporations have whenever possible dodged their responsibilities to pay fair wages, offer benefits and provide safe working conditions and hire Americans. The agriculture industry has also made extensive use of contractors to exploit illegal immigrants.

Underlining the seriousness of big business’ intense desire to cut labor overhead, the NLRB wrote in its decision:

“The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics survey from 2005 indicated that contingent workers accounted for as much as 4.1 percent of all employment, or 5.7 million workers. Employment in the temporary help services industry, a subset of contingent work, grew from 1.1 million to 2.3 million workers from 1990 to 2008. As of August 2014, the number of workers employed through temporary agencies had climbed to a new high of 2.87 million, a 2 percent share of the nation’s workforce.”

Please go to the CAPS Action Alert page here to ask your representative to support the Legal Workforce Act. Note this special request from CAPS within the Action Alert: If you want to go the extra mile, call the office of Speaker John Boehner at 202-225-0600 and ask him to bring HR 1147 up for a floor vote.” In 2011, when an earlier version of E-Verify passed the Judiciary Committee, Boehner blocked it.

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