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May
2013
29

Bernie Sanders: If There’s a Worker Shortage Crisis, “Why Haven’t Wages Gone Up?”

Bernie Sanders Guest Workers

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In a recent interview with Dylan Matthews of The Washington Post, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (D) described attempts for comprehensive immigration reform as “a massive effort to attract cheap labor.”  The immigration supporter takes exception to amendments offered by Senator Orrin Hatch that would alter guest worker program guidelines.  

Sanders argues that Hatch & Co.’s desired changes are being pushed by large corporations and will result in greater unemployment and lower wages for American workers:

What do you make of the W visa program for low-skilled workers that came out of a deal by the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce?

I want to take a harder look at that. But again, look, when you have very high unemployment rates for low-skilled workers in this country, for kids who graduate high school, I’m very dubious about the need to bring foreign unskilled labor into this country. These are kids, young high school graduates, and the unemployment rate is just extremely high. I do not understand why they cannot hire those people and need foreign labor.

There are areas when you do need foreign labor. Here in Vermont, while I wish it were the case that kids would go into dairy, they do not. That’s true in many areas, all over the country. I think there are clear examples, but they have been multiplied many times over by large corporations at the expense of the American workers. I’m very dubious of whether you need hundreds of thousands to come in right now when unemployment is so high.

The bill does create an agency to monitor labor market demand and make sure there are Americans who could be doing these jobs. What do you make of that?

Of course that’s a step in the right direction. It’s a very important issue. I am sympathetic to an employer who says, “Look, I have reached out, I have done everything I can in my community to find an American worker. I’ve done this and that, and I cannot find people who want to do that work.”

Is that true in some businesses? I think it is. What we must demand is that the employer make a thorough search. What I am not sympathetic to is employers who do not reach out in any serious way.

What you’re talking about now is an effort to try to monitor what the employment situation is. A couple of years ago, I believe it was Exxon Mobil that said they could not find American welders. I don’t believe it. I think in some instances, the complaints of the corporate world may well be true. In many instances, they’re not, because they’re not aggressive in reaching out to workers, or paying the wages they demand. Again, if there’s such a crisis, why haven’t wages gone up?

We Party Patriots has asked this very same question. Apparently guest worker programs defy the basic economics of supply and demand.

Read Sanders’ entire interview here.

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