WBEZ | AFL-CIO http://www.wbez.org/tags/afl-cio Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Immigrant job deaths up 14% in two years http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrant-job-deaths-14-two-years-107069 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/familia centeno 003a CROPfixed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The number of job fatalities among U.S. immigrants is increasing, a WBEZ analysis of <a href="http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm">U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics</a> data has found.</p><p>Foreign-born worker deaths rose 13.9 percent from 2009 to 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. Fatal injuries of U.S.-born workers during the period edged up just 1.0 percent.</p><p>Of the 843 immigrants who died from job injuries in 2011, Mexicans accounted for 349 (41.4 percent). The second largest group was Salvadoran, a nationality that accounted for 40 (4.7 percent) of the deaths. Next on the list were Guatemalan, Honduran and Indian immigrants &mdash; all with 24 (2.8 percent).</p><p>Immigrants constituted 18.0 percent of the country&rsquo;s 4,693 workers who suffered fatal job injuries in 2011. The annual percentage had increased each year going back to 2008, when foreign-born workers accounted for 16.0 percent of job fatalities.</p><p>Muzaffar Chishti, who directs the Migration Policy Institute office at New York University, says the immigrant fatality increase could be more than a statistical anomaly.</p><p>&ldquo;As recession has taken hold, employers have tightened their belt,&rdquo; Chishti said. &ldquo;And many of the labor standards, especially related to safety, go out the window.&rdquo;</p><p>Chishti also points to factors that inhibit immigrants from defending their workplace rights. Many foreign-born workers face language barriers. And many end up working for temporary agencies or other employers that can easily replace them.</p><p>The most vulnerable immigrants lack authorization to be in the United States &mdash; making them even less likely to speak up for their rights, Chishti said, because they fear their bosses will turn them over to immigration authorities.</p><p>Immigrant temporary workers who suffered a fatal job injury in 2011 included Chicago resident Carlos Centeno, 50, a Mexican native scalded by nearly boiling acid in a Bedford Park factory. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/98-minutes-radio-story-104504">A WBEZ and Center for Public Integrity investigation</a> of Centeno&rsquo;s case found that the federal government is not keeping close track of temp-worker injuries.</p><p>Immigrants in the country illegally are also more likely to work in dangerous industries, such as construction and meatpacking, Chishti said.</p><p>The AFL-CIO highlighted immigrant worker fatalities Tuesday in an <a href="http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/Death-on-the-Job-Report">annual safety report</a>. &ldquo;Fatalities among foreign-born or immigrant workers continue to be a serious problem,&rdquo; the report said.</p><p>In Illinois, 38 immigrants died from job injuries in 2011. The state number had ranged from 23 to 42 since 2006.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 07:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrant-job-deaths-14-two-years-107069 Low-wage worker advocates slam immigration overhaul’s visa plan http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-worker-advocates-slam-immigration-overhaul%E2%80%99s-visa-plan-106679 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ImmigrationGangOfEight.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A proposed immigration overhaul that a group of U.S. senators including Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) introduced Wednesday is worrying some advocates for low-wage Chicago workers.<br /><br />The advocates are pointing to a part of the plan that would bring foreign workers to the United States under a new program called the W Visa. The proposal, the advocates say, is short on resources for protecting the workers from wage theft, safety hazards and whistleblowing retaliation &mdash; problems that have plagued U.S. &ldquo;guest worker&rdquo; programs over the years.</p><p>&ldquo;What part of the legislation provides 3,500 new occupational safety monitors and wage inspectors?&rdquo; asked Arise Chicago organizer&nbsp;Jorge Mújica, referring to the number of new customs agents proposed by the bill. &ldquo;The plan only talks about hiring for border control,&rdquo; said Mújica, whose group focuses on workers at car washes, second-hand stores, embroidery shops and other sites.&nbsp;&ldquo;So no one can guarantee protections for the workers.&rdquo;</p><p>The W Visa program emerged last month from negotiations between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the nation&rsquo;s largest union federation. The program would admit up to 20,000 low-skilled foreign workers starting in 2015. The annual cap would grow to 75,000 by 2018. The number of visas would fluctuate, depending on data such as job openings and unemployment rates.<br /><br />Employers say the W Visa would provide their first good mechanism for bringing in nonimmigrant workers for low-skilled jobs that are not seasonal. The industries could range from hospitality to meatpacking, laundries to home health care.&nbsp;The employers say they have a hard time finding workers already in the United States who are willing to fill certain positions and that raising wages to attract workers could put the companies out of business.</p><p>The bill would create a new agency, dubbed the Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research, within the Department of Homeland Security to manage the number of workers who come annually. The agency would also handle complaints about employers.<br /><br />In the negotiations, unions tried to limit any new influx of low-wage foreign workers into the U.S. labor market and to distance the W Visa program from an existing &ldquo;guest worker&rdquo; system that leaves many of the foreigners vulnerable to abuses.</p><p>AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka says the W Visa will neither tie the workers to a single employer nor drag down the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. &ldquo;We have created a new model, a modern visa system that includes both a bureau to collect and analyze labor market data, as well as significant worker protections,&rdquo; Trumka said in a statement this month. &ldquo;We expect that this new program, which benefits not just business, but everyone, will promote long overdue reforms by raising the bar for existing [visa] programs.&rdquo;<br /><br />But Leone José Bicchieri, executive director of the Chicago Workers Collaborative, predicts the Senate bill would let down the visa recipients.<br /><br />&ldquo;In my experience with agricultural guest-worker programs, you have all of these protections in place and on paper,&rdquo; said Bicchieri, who worked for years as a farmworker organizer before joining the collaborative, which advocates for temporary workers. &ldquo;Now imagine having hundreds of thousands of [W Visa] workers all across the United States. And these workers are not talking with [government] monitors every day. There&rsquo;s not enough money to do that.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;They&rsquo;re talking with supervisors whose job is to make sure they pick the crop or cut the meat or clean the room,&rdquo; Bicchieri added. &ldquo;And these supervisors are constantly shouting at these workers, saying things like, &lsquo;You better hurry up or this is the last time you&rsquo;ll come back and work on any of these programs and I&rsquo;ll make sure your cousins and any family member in your hometown never get accepted to come back.&rsquo; &rdquo;<br /><br />Durbin&rsquo;s office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday did not comment on whether the W Visa program&rsquo;s labor protections were sufficient.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a> and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 16 Apr 2013 10:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/low-wage-worker-advocates-slam-immigration-overhaul%E2%80%99s-visa-plan-106679