AFL-CIO president backs foreign worker visa restructuring to protect American wages

'We've been saying this for 10 years. ... These visa laws don't work,' Trumka says

President Trump's executive order temporarily expanding immigration restrictions to include guest-worker programs does not go far enough, the president of the nation's largest union group said on Tuesday.

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"Don't just do this temporarily," AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told "Mornings with Maria." "Let's do this and make it a sane system so when there's a real need we can get people, but when there isn't a real need we shouldn't be able to bring people in to lower the wages of American workers."

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The order Trump signed Monday is meant to open more opportunities for Americans grappling with unemployment amid the coronavirus pandemic. It could impact 600,000 jobs by Dec. 31, according to the administration.

Around 46 million workers have filed initial jobless claims in the three months since coronavirus lockdowns hit the U.S.

Trumka said the AFL-CIO has met repeated opposition to its calls for restructuring guest worker programs, including from the Trump camp.

Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO speaks to members of the news media as he departs after a meeting with U.S.President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York, January 13, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

"We've been saying this for 10 years. ... These visa laws don't work," Trumka said.

The AFL-CIO endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden for president, although Biden supports fewer restrictions on immigration than Trump.

"Working-age immigrants keep our economy growing, our communities thriving, and country moving forward," Biden's campaign website says.

Trumka also addressed his demand that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologize following a report that the social media company would allow business administrators to censor words like "unionize" on its office management platform.

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Trumka said he would welcome a "change" to Section 230, which allows platforms like Facebook to avoid being liable as the publishers of the material on their sites, he said.

"Things like this shouldn't be allowed to happen," Trumka said. "They acted here as more than a platform. They acted here as an employer advocate, an illegal employer advocate to stop free speech and to stop unionization. They shouldn't be shielded from that type of conduct or others similar to that."

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