Unions: Mikulski Sold Out American Workers

Letter accuses her of driving down wages with foreign ‘slave’ labor

Barbara Mikulski
Barbara Mikulski / AP

Some of the largest and most influential trade unions in the country are calling out Democrats for boosting guest worker programs and open borders policies.

North America’s Building Trades Unions—an umbrella organization representing three million workers and 15 major unions, including the Laborers and Teamsters—sent outgoing Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D., Md.) a letter Thursday accusing her of selling out workers by importing foreigners to work for "Close to Slavery" wages. Mikulski pushed for increasing the number of temporary H2B visas that allow companies to bring guest workers to the United States to fill seasonal jobs.

"We wanted to express to you our extreme disappointment over your efforts to leverage the power and trust that the people of Maryland have placed in you as their representative to doggedly pursue language in the recently passed omnibus bill that will result in diminished job opportunities for hard working Americans," the letter says. "Flooding a loose labor market such as the construction industry with additional low-skill labor hurts the wages and reduces the job prospects of both recent immigrants and native-born workers who are struggling the most. To be blunt, Senator, your actions will induce a race to the bottom on wages and benefits for U.S. workers."

Mikulski did not respond to Washington Free Beacon request for comment.

The labor group said that the omnibus bill’s language would triple the number of visas issued and depress wages for blue-collar workers. It also accused Mikulski of attempting to "undermine" labor protections for American and foreign workers to benefit employers.

"To add insult to injury, you have also spearheaded efforts to undermine, and defund, even the most basic labor protections the Department of Labor and Homeland Security have at their disposal to ensure that no harm is caused to either the vulnerable foreign workers who are imported to do this often backbreaking work, or the hard working American workers who must now compete against a virtually powerless workforce to make a living," the letter says. "Your ‘accomplishment’ has undermined the fundamental principle, embedded in U.S. immigration law for more than one hundred years, that U.S. workers must be protected from unfair competition by foreign workers for both temporary and permanent jobs."

The group is going public with its campaign targeting Mikulski. It also plans to take a full-page advertisement out in the Baltimore Sun, the state’s largest paper, announcing that Mikulski "delivered a stunning blow to workers in Maryland and across America." The ad, purchased by the Community Hub for Opportunities in Construction Employment, urges residents to flood her Senate office with calls.

She has enjoyed past support from some of the unions that signed the letter. The Sheet Metal Workers Union, for example, is one of her largest career donors, contributing nearly $50,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Industrial unions contributed more than $250,000 to her, while the construction industry pumped her campaign and PACs with more than $330,000 over her career.

The group said that her actions could lead the group to find someone who would better reflect their values in the Senate.

"We can assure you that Maryland's construction workers, both union and non-union, will welcome new leadership on their behalf in the U.S. Senate; leadership that we will expect to fight FOR good paying jobs in Maryland and across the nation, rather than sell out an entire career and legacy on behalf of a ‘low road’ status quo," the letter says.