Immigration

Union Protectionism Hampering Immigration Reform

Temporary worker program a sticking point

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The Chamber of Commerce's lead immigration negotiator said Friday he's hoping for a deal soon with the AFL-CIO on a new temporary worker program, but the sides are still apart on important details.

The issue has emerged as perhaps the toughest obstacle to completion of comprehensive immigration legislation taking shape on Capitol Hill. Senators working on the bill gave the Chamber and the AFL-CIO the job of helping negotiate an agreement on the temporary worker issue.

Randy Johnson, the chamber's senior vice president for labor, immigration and employee benefits, told reporters at a briefing that points of contention include wages and the overall number of visas in the new program. He said the chamber sought 400,000 new visas for temporary workers while the AFL-CIO's opening number was much lower, in the low five figures.