Registering Workers!

My idea of the right way of practicing bipartisan politics is for the left to come up with proposals that the right hates, but will hate voting against more than they hate the bill that they’re forced to support. Here is a proposal that seems to me to have some merit on several levels, and that the left will love, while we enjoy watching the right forced to go along.

Businesses don’t like being under threat of invasion by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), and would love to have a system that would not only allow them to escape penalties for non-compliance, but would actually create a system and a status that would remove the need to even be concerned about the issue of hiring illegal immigrants. If that system also put pressure on illegal aliens by making it far harder for them to work in this country, conservatives would have to swallow almost anything which would produce that result.

The suggestion, then, is to create a system for registering all working persons in this country, and have the core of the system built on a foundation of our labor unions. In return for figuring out how to check out the legality of workers and organizing the data base, unions would be given the sole authority to include individuals on a Worker Registry. The incentive that makes the idea viable is to permit companies to place themselves on a list of companies exempt from compliance inspection by certifying that they employ only Registered workers.

What’s in it for Unions? Access to labor in ways that have never before been available would be the prime motivator. Further, Unions would be able to compete with each other for “customers” in an environment where most working Americans would see the value of going through the clearance process. Or Unions could choose to work together in any combination. Organizing and solidarity are core values of any successful labor movement and Unions would be facilitated in working towards those goals. While persons seeking registration only would not be automatically represented by a Union in contracting, and companies would not have to accept Unions as bargaining entities where their workers have not yet already won the right to have a collective contract, access to workers, and contact with them by Unions would be enhanced to a degree that would open up any number of possibilities that don’t now exist. This could also create a profit center for Unions where they don’t now have one, but competition could be expected to keep the cost reasonable. Hell, Unions might even find it valuable enough to create this whole system for us at no cost.

Companies, the true core constituency of the Republic Party, have been demanding a way to get ICE off of their back once and for all. They find almost nothing more unfair than being required to avoid hiring illegal aliens while having no viable way to check anyone out. Of course some employers would try to game the system, so fines for a violation of claiming a 100% Registered workforce without maintaining one should be made very steep. It would also seem most reasonable to place primary enforcement responsibility with Unions, while giving them the incentive for it by earmarking most of the fine as a reward for their efforts. Union relationships with workers would be the perfect conduit for information on employer hiring practices. Even the small companies that are the worst offenders now would start to fall in line because failing to Certify compliance would certainly raise a red flag in an environment where their would be an ever decreasing number of employers not Certified.

While it seems improbable on initial consideration, persons concerned about the harshness of this situation on undocumented workers, and those worried about the decrease in the size of the labor pool if the undocumented become largely unemployable would also gain something. This is so because one of the most valid arguments against a program for integrating those here now like Reagan did is that new people come across the border to replace those who are now able to come out of the shadows. However, as Registration gains momentum, something that will happen as our workers get used to the idea that they are going to have to go down to the local Union Hall to Register if they want a job, the ability for people to benefit from illegal entry will be dramatically reduced.

Conservatives will obviously favor the concept of helping employers get out of the messy situation they now face. And it is an absolute given that they will completely hate voting for anything that gives even the smallest benefit to Unions. However, the alternative is to try to do the same thing inside of the government (something which hasn’t been going well for any number of years). On the one hand they would be faced with basically a “free market” approach to resolution of a serious and urgent problem faced by the country. On the other hand would be the alternative of creating and funding a bureaucratic solution.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see liberals create a solution for a major social problem and watch Conservatives wrestle with deciding whether to give a helping hand to organized labor, or being forced to state openly that they are going to come out on the side of big government?

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