Tag Archives: department of labor

Department of Labor Suspends Bush Guest Worker Laws

In December, I blogged about the Bush administration’s midnight attack on farm workers that slashed wages and protections, sending many laborers back to the Bracero era. Thankfully, upon being sworn in, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis proposed a suspension of the new laws.


Erik Nicholson, a national vice president of the United Farm Workers, applauded Ms. Solis’s decision, calling the Bush rules “some of the worst setbacks for farm workers in decades.” He added, “They meant worse wages and worse housing conditions for these workers and worse discrimination against American workers.”

Glad to see Ms. Solis is already taking a stand as an advocate for workers’ rights in the new administration.

Rep. Hilda Solis is the new Secretary of Labor

solisFrom the National Immigration Forum:

Washington, DC Today, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) is President-elect Obama’s pick to head the Department of Labor.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization in Washington.

Rep. Hilda Solis has been a key leader for immigrants, workers, and comprehensive immigration reform throughout her career and we eagerly welcome the good news that she has been selected as the next Secretary of Labor.  Joining Gov. Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security, Sen. Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Gov. Bill Richardson at the Department of Commerce, and other key nominees, Rep. Solis is joining a strong team that can work with Congress on behalf of the President to deliver real reform for the American people on the issue of immigration.

In this time of economic insecurity, it is more important than ever that we have stability in our labor market and the conditions by which workers – immigrant and native-born alike – can stand together to win better wages and better jobs.  Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform is a key ingredient in defending and extending workers’ rights.

In nominating a leader as skilled and dedicated as Rep. Solis to this important office, President-elect Obama is sending the clear signal that American workers, regardless of their country of birth, are a valued part of America’s future and a top priority for his Administration. 

This is great news. The pieces are truly falling into place for the prospects of comprehensive immigration reform next year. Let’s keep this momentum rolling!

Committee Hearing on Immigration (Part 2)

There was one aspect to yesterday’s hearing that I found specifically interesting – and thus deserving of its own blog post.

Since the raid in May, it has come to light that the Department of Labor was investigating Agriprocessors (the kosher meatpacking plant that was the site of the raid) for various labor violations.

Immigrations and Customs Enforcement was also investigating the plant for the employment of undocumented workers, the culmination of which was the massive invasion of ICE Agents in May and the arrest of nearly 400 workers.

However, it seems as though there was a lack of coordination between these two departments of government.

Representative Bruce Braley (IA), testified that he received conflicting letters from ICE and the Department of Labor regarding the raids. ICE wrote Braley, stating that they had fully informed the Department of Labor about their plans to raid Agriprocessors. The Department of Labor, however, claims that only the Office of the Inspector General was notified, leaving the Wage and Hour Division of the Department (which was busy investigating Agriprocessors) in the dark.

This may seem like a small detail, but in terms of enforcement of labor laws, its huge. It was pointed out during the hearing yesterday that it seems as though the Department of Labor would have a rough time following through on its investigation if the majority of its key witnesses had been detained during the ICE raid.

The Department of Justice maintains that they are fully intend for detainees to aid in the labor violations investigation – and testify if need be. However, 30 of the detained workers have already been deported.

As Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (CA) pointed out, it is very disturbing that ICE did not inform the Wage and Hour Division and its almost as though they intended to disrupt the investigation. The Chairwoman also pointed out that it seemed as though ICE was selectively enforcing some laws, while allowing others to remain violated.

With so much focus during the hearing regarding our status as a “nation of laws” and the committees insistence that the law should be upheld, this hypocrisy seems even more outrageous.

During the hearing, CongressmanSteve King (IA) spoke of undocumented immigrants displacing Americans in the workforce and also stated that they depress wages.

However, without the proper enforcement of wage and labor laws across the board, how can we combat this depression of wages?

The ICE raids interference with the Department of Labor investigation is proof that the raids are a symbolic efforts to “do something” about immigration, not a holistic solution that works to solve the root problems like falling wages.

For more coverage on yesterday’s hearing, you can visit the following links.

The San Francisco Chronicle

AP Article

Iowa’s Gazette Online

The Jurist


The Washington Post