Why construction unions are wrong in fighting immigration reform

UndocumentedConstructionAh politics! Strange bedfellows. Even stranger enemies.

One would think the universal brotherhood of union workers would welcome with solidarity the teeming masses from south of the border. But that is certainly not the case if those Hispanic workers have construction skills.

Buzzfeed Politics is reporting that the AFL-CIO in the pending immigration bill is demanding:

  • A 10,000 person annual cap on low-wage work visas
  • Barring work visas for any trade covered by Davis Bacon wage laws (and that covers almost all the construction industry).
  • Creating an unemployment based trigger for work visas that would come into effect only when employment drops below a specific level.

This is pretty rich, and like so many union initiatives today, wrongheaded.

What makes the unions’ whole approach moot is the fact that there aren’t enough young people in the construction industry with the strength, work habits or skills to do the work available. We’re barely out of the recession and contractors and fleet managers are already desperate to find workers.