America's top labor and business groups reached an agreement last night over the final sticking point in overhauling the country's immigration laws, the Washington Post reports. Talking to Sen. Charles Schumer on a conference call, the AFL-CIO's boss and the president of the US Chamber of Commerce agreed in principle on a visa program for foreign workers. All eight senators involved in drafting the bill have not yet signed off, but may soon because they were briefed as negotiations developed, a source tells the Post.
Businesses had wanted 400,000 new visas in the program, but labor wanted a much lower number to protect the benefits and wages of US workers. The Senate had proposed allowing 20,000 low-skilled guest workers in the first year, 75,000 by 2020, and 200,000 after several more years, according to insiders. Capital and labor have also agreed on a pay scale for low-skilled immigrant workers, pegging it at the prevailing industry wage used in the last foreign worker program, reports the New York Times.