Joseph T. Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and chair of the Change to Win Immigration Task Force, and John Sweeney, International President of the AFL-CIO, today unveiled a unified framework for comprehensive immigration reform legislation, according to an AFL-CIO press release.

The joint announcement and proposal is a critical sign of support for the Administration and Congress to address immigration reform — and to ensure that it remains a priority on the legislative calendar. It is also an important sign that immigration reform is an important part of economic recovery.

“We need an immigration system that works for America’s workers,” said President Hansen. “For too long, our nation’s immigration system has fueled discrimination and exploitation of workers. It has driven down wages and working conditions. And it has failed to live up to our nation’s values. We now have an opportunity to change course. This framework is a roadmap toward real reform — reform that addresses the needs of our nation’s workers, families and communities. This framework is about moving America forward. We are a nation that respects hard work, family and the pursuit of the American Dream. Our immigration system must hold true to these principles.”

“Our nation’s broken immigration system isn’t working for anybody — not immigrant workers who are routinely exploited by companies and not U.S. born workers whose living standards are being undermined by the creation of a new ‘underclass.’ As a part of broad-based economic recovery, we need a comprehensive solution — and soon. The development of a unified labor position, a position centered on workers' rights, puts us on the path to a legislative solution,” said President Sweeney. “The labor movement will speak in one voice to address this pressing issue with Congress and the White House to create a system that protects all workers — those who work in our shadow economy and those who have full rights.”

Sweeney and Hansen also were joined by Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Arturo Rodriquez, President of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in making the announcement. Both Medina and Rodriguez have been national leaders on immigration reform and played a key role in the formation of the immigration framework.

“As we face the most serious recession since the Great Depression — as healthcare costs skyrocket, income disparity grows, and the middle class continues to shrink — the American public wants fundamental reform of economic and social policies that have benefited the few at the expense of the working majority,” said Medina “Immigration reform is no exception. Today’s unified agreement is a major step forward that will, combined with the continued leadership of President Obama, Vice President Biden and bipartisan leadership in Congress, profoundly improve the future of all workers and build a stronger American economy for our children and grandchildren.”

President Obama recently reiterated his support for immigration reform and stated that real reform cannot be completed in a piecemeal fashion.

The Unity Framework, which was developed in consultation with Former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall and the Economic Policy Institute, provides a comprehensive plan for addressing immigration reform.

The plan adheres to the Administration’s goals by creating a framework that deals with the critical components of reform and does it through interconnected initiatives. The proposal calls for: (1) an independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) a secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) rational operational control of the border; (4) adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and (5) improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

In the coming weeks, representatives from labor will be meeting with key Congressional and Administration staff to discuss the framework and how best to move the issue forward. The groups have also briefed key activists and advocates about the framework and will be working closely with these vital allies in the coming months.