WASHINGTON, November 19 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) today introduced legislation to prohibit major firms that lay off large numbers of American workers from hiring cheaper foreign labor through temporary guest worker programs.
The economic stimulus package included a similar provision authored by Sanders and Grassley to prevent companies receiving a taxpayer bailout from the Troubled Asset Relief Program from replacing laid-off American workers with guest workers from overseas. The Sanders-Grassley Employ America Act expands upon this provision by barring any company engaged in a mass layoff of American workers from hiring temporary guest workers from abroad.
Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, said, “With the unemployment rate still climbing and millions of people looking for work, we have a responsibility to ensure that companies do not use the temporary guest-worker program to replace American workers with cheaper labor from overseas.”
Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “Our foreign guest worker programs are in place to fill employment needs where there is a shortage of American workers, not as a subterfuge to hire cheap labor. With the unemployment rate over 10 percent, companies that undertake mass layoffs shouldn’t need to hire foreign guest workers when there are plenty of qualified Americans looking for jobs.”
Recently, industries that have hired tens of thousands of guest workers from overseas have announced large-scale layoffs of American workers. The high-tech industry, a major employer of H-1B guest workers, has laid off over 345,000 workers since August 2008. The construction industry, a major employer of H-2B guest-workers, has laid off more than 1.5 million workers since December 2007.
Large companies that have announced layoffs of 50 or more American workers over the past year would be subject to this guest worker prohibition.
To read the bill, click here.