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November 27, 2013

We need joint workforce planning with Mexico

RAND just came out with a nuanced analysis of how the American and Mexican labor markets are so intertwined that we need to set up mechanisms for joint planning for migrant workers throughout their entire labor life cycle. The dimensions of the issue include migration, job security, and retirement benefits.

There are some great images including a map of the origin of Mexican migrants to the U.S.

Its study smashes some myths, as here:

The stereotypical perception of Mexican immigrants is that they come from the lowest rungs of Mexican society. In fact, Mexican immigrants in the United States are more likely to have completed eight to nine years of education than those remaining in Mexico, and less likely to have completed either fewer years of education or college. In other words, the least educated and the most educated are less likely to migrate to the United States.

RAND concludes:

A binational organization that promotes a better understanding of migration flows coupled with a bilateral social security agreement for legal migrant workers would serve as cornerstones for building solid immigration and labor policies that could benefit both the U.S. and Mexican populations. These two initiatives could also inaugurate a longer-term collaboration between the two countries that, as geographic neighbors, must jointly find solutions to promote the well-being of their people

November 23, 2013

Business and Labor Leaders send letter to Washington

Open Letter to President Obama, Speaker Boehner, and Members of Congress:

New York is a great world city, thanks in large part to the steady stream of immigrants who make up almost 40% of our current population, own more than a third of our small businesses, and keep our diverse neighborhoods thriving. Unfortunately, restrictive U.S. immigration policies have reduced the net flow of global talent into our city by 32% in the last decade and forced many foreign-born New Yorkers to either leave or live in the shadows.

Continued delays on comprehensive immigration reform will have dire economic consequences.

Right now, there is an opportunity to fix our nation's broken immigration system if you, our leaders in Washington D.C., can reach agreement on a fair and balanced approach to reform. We are convinced that this will benefit America's workers and employers alike and have immediate and substantial economic benefits for our entire country.

Business and labor certainly do not agree on every issue, but we are united in urging you to reach agreement on comprehensive immigration reform, including the following provisions:

· A broad pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who already reside in our country, so long as they have been responsible and contributing members of their community.

· Talented, young "dreamers"—aspiring citizens who were brought here as children—should have all the educational opportunities and benefits enjoyed by other young Americans.

· A flexible system of allocating work visas and green cards on the basis of a regular assessment of labor market demands.

· Allowance for foreign students to stay in the U.S. when they earn advanced degrees in subjects where the U.S. has a skills shortage.

Jobs in science, technology, engineering and math ("STEM" fields) are growing three times faster than other jobs in our economy, and we need to tap global labor pools to fill them. Other countries are attracting great entrepreneurs who build successful companies and create jobs through their aggressive immigration policies—the type of talent that the U.S. once welcomed but now turns away.

Employers and organized labor were once on different sides of these issues, but we have come to understand that to grow jobs at home, we need to welcome job creators and workers from all over the world.

Leaders in Washington, D.C. promised action on immigration reform after the last Presidential election, but a year has gone by and it never happened. It is inexcusable to move this issue into the 2014 election year, when politics will again intrude on the country's best interests. We urge you to enact practical and humane immigration reforms now.


Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU, UFCW)
Candace K. Beinecke, Chair, First Eagle Fund & Chair, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP
Philippe P. Dauman, President and CEO, Viacom Inc.
Laurence D. Fink, Chairman & CEO, BlackRock, Inc.
Alan H. Fishman, Chairman, Ladder Capital Finance LLC
George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU
George Miranda, President, Teamster Joint Council 16
Michael Mulgrew, President, United Federation of Teachers
Harry Nespoli, Chairman, Municipal Labor Committee; President, Uniformed Sanitationmen's Association
Steven Roth, Chairman, Vornado Realty Trust
Kevin Ryan, Chairman & Founder, Gilt Groupe
Jerry I. Speyer, Chairman & Co-CEO, Tishman Speyer
Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Chairman and CEO, Boston Properties

November 22, 2013

An end to draconian state laws that target undocumenteds?

The Migration Policy Institute reports on a settlement between the state of Alabama and plaintiffs who had tied up the implementation of HB 56, enacted in 2011 to crack down on undocumented persons. Plaintiffs prevented the law from being enforced through a suit in federal court and a federal Court of Appeals decision to enjoin the state from enforcing the law. The Supreme Court declined in April 2013 to review the decision. The state threw in the towel, signing a settlement on October 29. The text of the settlement is here.

This settlement might blow the winds out of the sails of those trying to pass draconian, anti- undocumented worker statutes. The Alabama statute was the most far-reaching such law. Per the MPI, Arizona led the charge in 2010 by enacting SB 1070, which served as the blueprint for this forceful new activism toward unauthorized immigrants, rooted in the idea of "attrition through enforcement." Five states — Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, South Carolina, and Utah — quickly followed Arizona's example in 2011.

The MPI says that under the settlement, Alabama state officials agreed to block components of HB 56 that would have:

Required K-12 public schools to collect information about the immigration status of their students
Made it a criminal offense for noncitizens to fail to carry their alien registration documents
Made it a crime for unauthorized immigrants to solicit work
Made it a criminal offense to offer a ride or rent housing to an unauthorized immigrant
Infringed on the ability of individuals to contract with an unauthorized immigrant.

In addition to agreeing to block these provisions, the state will pay organizations that brought the lawsuit — including the Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, and Mexican American Legal and Education Defense Fund — $350,000 for attorney fees and expenses incurred in the litigation.

The MPI goes on to say that in the months leading up to the Alabama settlement, federal courts have been inhospitable to state omnibus immigration enforcement laws.

November 19, 2013

Does lack of English cause work injuries?

Common sense suggests that Limited English Proficiency among the 15 million or so immigrant workers who work in average or about average risky jobs contributes to the rate of injury. It’s impossible to document this because so many injuries sustained by immigrant workers, and undocumented workers especially, go un-reported.

A study looked national survey data and reported a close correlation between LEP and working in higher injury risk jobs.

“Our results indicate that differences in observable characteristics, such as English ability and education, play important roles in the tendency of immigrants to work in riskier jobs. Workers’ ability to speak English is inversely related to their industry injury and fatality rates, indicating that immigrants who speak English fluently work in safer jobs. The CDC (2008) attributed the high number of work-related deaths among foreign-born Hispanics in part to inadequate knowledge of safety hazards and inadequate training and supervision of workers, which are often exacerbated by language and literacy problems. Our findings bolster such calls for more safety training in languages other than English (National Research Council 2003).”


Do Immigrants Work in Riskier Jobs? Orrenius P et al. Demography. 2009 August; 46(3): 535–551. Found at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831347/

November 15, 2013

Why training foreign-born workers in their native language is important

Teri Hale, work works at UL Workplace Health and Safety, posted a valuable commentary on the work injury risks of language barriers. Her posting, Training in native language improves likelihood of retention – and helps create safer workplaces, capture the problems well.

Here is her posting in full:

People learn, understand and retain information best if it is taught to them in their native language.

If you have ever visited a foreign country where you speak little or none of the language, you know how confusing it can be.

In terms of safety training, comprehension increase when learners can give their complete attention to the content without first needing to mentally convert the information into their first language. From the beginning of the course, the learner is focused on the subject matter, not on trying to translate and interpret the material.
Misinterpretation can lead to lower productivity, lost revenue and more seriously, injury and loss of life. This is especially true in high-risk sectors such as manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, and construction. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that language barriers are a contributing factor in 25 percent of job-related accidents. Moreover, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that fatal injury rates were 69 percent higher for foreign-born Hispanic workers than for native-born Hispanic workers (who tend to have a better grasp of English).

In 2010, OSHA announced an initiative in which it directed compliance officers to observe whether employers provide employees safety training in a language they understand. Employers who fail to properly train their employees are subject to citations and penalties.

While OSHA cannot mandate that safety training be given in any language other than English, the agency seeks to protect workers who speak English as a second language. This is especially true for employers with a largely Hispanic workforce. OSHA has a compliance assistance website for Spanish-speakers and other resources for Hispanic workers and employers.

Earlier this year, OSHA extended similar training protections to temporary workers. Field inspectors are expected to assess whether employers who use temporary workers are complying with their responsibilities under the OSH Act. The initiative follows on the heels of a spike in reports of temporary workers suffering fatal injuries on the job. In many cases, OSHA reports, the employer either provided inadequate safety training or failed to provide it at all.

To ensure the safety of your workforce, and to avoid potential liability under OSHA’s initiative, it’s imperative to offer training in employees’ native language and take steps to ensure that all safety practices are explained in an easily understood manner. Translating existing training materials from English to Spanish (and other languages, as needed) is a cost-effective solution.

Maximize the impact of your training program with eLearning created for YOUR workplace, including native language training and custom branded courses.

November 14, 2013

Extraordinary visual of international migration

Go the this page of the website of the International Organization for Migration. You will see a map of the world.

After choosing either “inward” or “outward”, select a country. The United States data is pretty dense, so first select a small country, such as Ghana. You will then learn there are 110,000 Ghanaians in the U.S., 23,000 in Canada and 186,000 in Nigeria.

How the IOM describes its mission:

IOM is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. As the leading international organization for migration, IOM acts with its partners in the international community to:

Assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration management.
Advance understanding of migration issues.
Encourage social and economic development through migration.
Uphold the human dignity and well-being of migrants.