By Ted Hesson | 04/18/2017 10:00 AM EDT
With help from Marianne LeVine, Ian Kullgren and Mel Leonor
TRUMP EO TO TACKLE VISA PROGRAMS: An executive order that President Donald Trump will sign today directs federal departments to crack down on fraud and abuse in guest worker programs, POLITICO's Megan Cassella reports. A senior administration official told reporters Monday afternoon that the order will cover, among others, the H-1B visa program, which allows companies to hire specialized workers from abroad on a temporary basis. "The official criticized the H-1B system for awarding visas randomly, without taking into account an applicant's skill or salary level," Cassella reports. The result is that "workers are often brought in at well below market rates," the administration source said.
"The official emphasized that while each department will need a 'full legal analysis' to determine what changes can be made to existing programs, the administration believes there are steps that can be taken both administratively and legislatively," Cassella reports. One target could be the so-called "H-1B lottery." When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives a surplus of H-1B petitions, the agency holds a random lottery to determine which applications can move forward. The executive order, Cassella writes, could suggest "weighting the lottery to give an advantage to applicants who hold higher education degrees, for example, or to increase the application fee."
As POLITICO's Ted Hesson reported yesterday, bipartisan legislation to address abuses in the H-1B program, particularly by contractors, has been introduced in both houses of Congress, but Trump has yet to endorse those measures. Read more.
GOOD MORNING. It's Tuesday, April 18, and this is Morning Shift, POLITICO's daily tipsheet on employment and immigration policy. Send tips, exclusives, and suggestions to email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @tedhesson, @marianne_levine, @MelLeonor, @IanKullgren and @TimothyNoah1.
CORRECTION: Morning Shift misstated the name of a business coalition in the April 14 edition of the newsletter. The group was the H-2B Workforce Coalition, not the H-2B Visa Coalition. We regret the error.
TODAY: STATE OF THE HOMELAND: Homeland Security Sec. John Kelly will discuss his plans for the department in an 11 a.m. speech at George Washington University. "He'll be speaking about the diverse threats facing the U.S., including terrorism, transnational criminal organizations, and cyber-attacks, and how DHS plans to combat those threats," spokesperson David Lapan told Morning Shift. The remarks will be followed by a discussion with Frank Cilluffo, director of GWU's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security.
WALKER KILLS PROJECT LABOR AGREEMENTS: Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation Monday that prohibits state agencies and local governments from requiring contractors to use so-called "project labor agreements," or pre-hire collective bargaining agreements, on public projects, Jason Stein reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In a statement , Walker said that "by forbidding state and local governments from requiring contractors to enter into agreements with labor organizations, we're promoting healthy competition between contractors." But Democrats argue that the bill "will interfere with the ability of local governments to get the best value for projects in their area," according to Stein. More here.
The move drew praise from Ben Brubeck, a vice president with the Associated Builders and Contractors, who wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Trump should follow suit nationwide. The president "may be a famous builder," Brubeck wrote, "but he could learn something about infrastructure from Wisconsin's Scott Walker and Iowa's Terry Branstad (who signed a similar measure last week)." Brubeck called the agreements "a sop to unions that inflate construction costs and discourage competition." Read more.
FIDUCIARY DELAY LEAVES EVERYONE UNHAPPY: The Labor Department's decision to delay the fiduciary rule isn't making anyone happy, judging from several ornery letters sent Monday by factions for and against the regulation. The rule requires broker dealers to consider only their client's best interest (and not commissions or fees) when providing retirement advice. The financial services industry argues that the rule will expose broker dealers to class action lawsuits and limit advice for small savers. Earlier this month, DOL issued a final proposal to delay the regulation by 60 days, in response to a White House memo.
The delay has angered Democrats and consumer advocates who want the rule to take effect. In a letter sent Monday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urged DOL to refrain from further procrastination. He wrote that "any delay in implementing the fiduciary rule is both costly and unnecessary" and noted that the regulation "was subject to an exhaustive rulemaking process spanning six years."
On the flip side, financial services groups and trade associations like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association have also complained about the delay, but for the opposite reason: the wording of the delay might cause it to take effect before DOL completes its review. In a letter sent to the Employee Benefits Security Administration Monday, SIFMA said it "strongly disagrees with [DOL's] expressed intention to allow the rule to become effective within 60 days, even though the report mandated by the president's memorandum is not likely to be completed." SIFMA recommended that DOL issue an additional 180-day delay. Did we mention that the Senate still hasn't taken the confirmation vote for Labor nominee Alex Acosta to the floor?
NYC MOVES TO ALLOW UBER TIPPING: New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission proposed Monday that any car service company that accepts only a credit card must provide a tipping option - a tentative victory for an association of Uber drivers in the city. "New Yorkers have for years been able to tip a taxi driver by adding a few dollars to their bill before swiping a credit card," Emma Fitzsimmons writes in the New York Times. "But they cannot add a tip when they use the popular ride-hailing app Uber. Now officials in New York City are moving to require Uber to provide a tipping option in the app."
"The decision was prompted by a petition from the Independent Drivers Guild, a group representing Uber drivers in New York," Fitzsimmons writes. "The petition, which collected more than 11,000 signatures, argued that drivers were losing thousands of dollars without an easy tipping option ... . The proposal will be formally introduced in the next few months and requires approval by the taxi commission's board." Read more.
W.VA. LAWMAKERS WANT PERMANENT MINER FIX: West Virginia lawmakers, including Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) urged Senate and House leaders Monday to provide a permanent fix to bail out a health insurance fund for miners retired from now-bankrupt coal companies. In their letter, the lawmakers wrote that "as Congress considers a continuing resolution to keep the government running, we fully expect that such a vehicle will include the permanent health care fix for our nation's retired miners as promised at the end of 2016."
In December, Congress passed a short-term funding bill that shifted money within the retirees' multiemployer health fund to keep health benefits flowing to more than 16,000 retired coal miners. That provision, which expires at the end of the month, "shortened the timeline for 6,500 of these miners who would have otherwise received health care benefits through July," the lawmakers wrote. Read the letter here.
STUCK WITH ARBITRATION: Reversing a district court ruling, the Eighth Circuit ruled Friday that 33 former employees of General Mills must abide by an arbitration agreement signed as part of their severance package. The agreement was offered to 850 workers laid off in 2012, some of whom now argue that they were dismissed based on their age. Per Monday's ruling, they'll have to bring those complaints before an arbitrator, since the severance agreement waived their rights under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Read the opinion here.
MANAGER NOT AT FAULT: The Fifth Circuit ruled Friday that a Macy's manager accused by an employee of discrimination cannot be held liable if he did not personally benefit from his actions. The employee brought a lawsuit against the company and his manager for allegedly discriminating against him because of his PTSD and his veteran status. He argued that the manager kept him from properly performing his job duties by being hostile - in violation of Macy's anti-discrimination policy. Read the opinion here.
On the subject of arbitration ... The NLRB ruled that DISH Network LLC must rewrite its employee contract to eliminate an arbitration agreement that suggested workers may not file claims with the board. The board's sole Republican appointee, Acting Chairman Phil Miscimarra, agreed. Bloomberg has more.
SICK LEAVE RULE HERE TO STAY? The Trump administration may not want to jettison an Obama-era rule that mandates paid sick leave for federal contractors, Bloomberg BNA's Ben Penn reports. The 2016 rule required companies bidding on construction and service contracts to offer at least 56 hours' paid leave per year.
"Trump administration officials discussed revising or repealing the paid sick leave order and the DOL's implementing rules during earlier stages of the transition," Penn writes. "But in recent weeks, the regulation has taken a back seat, as employer advocates and GOP lawmakers turned their attention to repealing the controversial overtime, fiduciary and 'blacklisting' rules." More here.
SCOTUS PASSES ON RAPID DEPORTATION CASE: "The U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped a turbulent debate over illegal immigration on Monday, turning away an appeal by a group of asylum-seeking Central American women and their children who aimed to clarify the constitutional rights of people who the government has prioritized for deportation," Reuters' Andrew Chung reports. "The families, 28 women and 33 children ages 2 to 17 from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala, had hoped the justices would overturn a lower court's ruling preventing them from having their expedited removal orders reviewed by a federal judge." More here.
DO IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWNS REDUCE TAX RECEIPTS?: "Millions of taxpayers are rushing to complete their federal and state filings before the April 18 deadline," NPR's Richard Gonzales reports. "Among them are several million people in this country illegally, and there are signs that fewer such immigrants are filing than in years past." The story centers on the use of Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers, which are used to file taxes in lieu of a Social Security number. As such, "it's generally understood that most tax filers using an ITIN are in this country illegally," Gonzales writes. "Overall, tax service providers in the San Francisco Bay Area say there's about a 20 percent decline in the number of people filing with ITINs," he reports. "There are similar reports from service providers in other areas of the country." Read more.
N.C. DACA ENROLLEE FEARS DEPORTATION: A 20-year-old honors student at Gardner-Webb University, an hour's drive west of Charlotte, faces possible deportation Wednesday despite her enrollment in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports. Sthefany Flores Fuentes, who was born in Honduras, was first approved for the DACA program in 2013 and has renewed her status three times. Although she has no criminal record, Flores Fuentes "received a formal letter from [ICE] April 1, saying arrangements had been made to send her back to a country she hasn't been to since she was 7 years old," the Citizen-Times reports.
"Flores Fuentes was ordered removed by an immigration judge in April 29, 2005, according to the U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review," the outlet reports. "She was 8 years old at the time." An individual can still qualify for the DACA program with final order of removal - but the previous violation appears to have caught the attention of federal immigration officers. "Flores Fuentes was told to arrive at 10 a.m. at the federal immigration office in Charlotte with no more than 40 pounds of luggage," the Citizen-Times reports. Read more.
THE FRENCH WAY: As union membership declines, American labor groups might look to Europe's model, Dylan Matthews reports for Vox. "Unions there bargain not at the company level but at the sector level - negotiating for all workers in an entire industry rather than just one company or workplace."
"In France, for example, an employers' federation representing restaurants will negotiate with a union representing restaurant workers," Matthews writes. "They reach a deal, and then the government 'extends' the deal to cover all restaurants and all restaurant workers. ... Because every company, no matter how many of its employees are in a union, has to abide by the same pay and benefit deal, companies have less incentive to discourage union membership." Read more.
-"Union narrowly wins vote in Nestle center; contract talks coming," from the Atlanta Journal Constitution
-"Dallas opera accused of forcing out older musicians," from Law360
-"Deported veteran's pardon gives hope, but no guarantee," from the San Diego Union-Tribune
- "Robots may help build your next home and fill the labor gap" from Bloomberg
- "Can Rhode Island's paid family leave be a national model?," from PBS Newshour
- "Boeing plans hundreds of layoff notices for engineers this week," from the Seattle Times
-"With a Hollywood writers' strike looming, here's what to know," from The New York Times
- "Trump's new rules could swamp already backlogged immigration courts," from USA Today
THAT'S ALL FOR MORNING SHIFT.
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