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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kissy Noises From Washington
Emily Stover DeRocco has been cozying up to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and other business interests for the last several years. So it should come as no surprise to anyone that she recently left her post as Assistant Secretary of Labor, Employment and Training Administration (ETA) to become president of NAM's Manufacturing Institute's National Center for the American Workforce.

As Patrick Buchanan wrote on page 230 in his book, Day of Reckoning,

The National Association of Manufacturers converted to free trade - to be free of its American workers, free to move its factories abroad, free to export back to the United States, free of charge.
Could things change with the addition of DeRocco to the staff?

The AFL-CIO weblog has a nice tidy little article about how DeRocco helped deliver the entire Department of Labor to the hands of business interests. Indeed, look at this damning little tidbit from NAM's 2002 CWS Workforce Development Conference, where it was reported "Assistant Labor Secretary Emily Stover De Rocco informed conference attendees of the Bush Administration’s desire to refocus the Department of Labor toward valuing the voice of business." It's too bad that the link purportedly giving us the text of her speech is now defunct.

John Engler, the President of NAM, gushed in the press release,

"Emily provided exemplary leadership as Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training and is widely regarded as a leading authority on workforce development,” Engler said. “Finding qualified employees is a daunting challenge for the great majority of manufacturers and the skills gap will become an ever greater problem as older manufacturing workers retire. Emily comes to us at a pivotal moment when her leadership is greatly needed.”
Based on past performance, I don't think we should get ready to usher in a new era of prosperity for the American manufacturing industry workforce. By looking at one of the quarterly DOL/ETA's 2004 Workforce System Results, you'll see how she helped throw an awful lot of money towards programs that only affected a few hundred people here and a few thousand people there. (Honestly, does anyone know anyone who's ever participated in or benefited from any of these workforce training programs?)

On page 8 of the .PDF file, notice how the results to goal ratio for Foreign Labor Certification functions were about the best of any category. The report proudly displays how the Department of Labor reached their highest grade by processing 99% of employer labor condition applications for the foreign H-1B professional/specialty temporary worker program within 7 days of receipt!

Pages 12 and 13 of the file describes the old H-1B Technical Skills Training Program, first authorized in 1998, which had the ".....long term goal of raising the skill levels of domestic workers in order to fill specialty occupations presently being filled by temporary workers admitted to the United States under the provisions of the H-1B visa." Notice how quickly this program was dropped, as it seemed to have completely disappeared from the Quarterly Workforce System Results by the end of 2005. The IEEE-USA reported in February 2005 that many people were disappointed with the performance outcomes of the program. However, the program was doomed much earlier than that, as witnessed by this statement issued by Emily Stover DeRocco on February 27, 2002:
We will propose to redirect fees previously used to fund the H-1B training grants to reduce the growing backlog of permanent foreign labor certification applications. Over 300,000 employer applications are pending processing, 78% of which were received between January and April 30,2001, when Congress extended section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. An estimated $137.5 million will be available for this purpose. The H-1B grants were authorized to increase training for American workers for jobs in which labor shortages have caused employers to hire high skilled foreign workers. We have no evidence that spending $100 million to $200 million annually will have any measurable impact on reducing the reliance of American employers on workers with H-1B visas.
Does anyone think the program failed to reduce "..the reliance of American employers on workers with H-1B visas" because it's cheaper to pay H-1B visa holders than to pay American workers?

A direct outgrowth of the redirected fees "previously used to fund the H-1B training grants" was the establishment of backlog elimination centers for the processing of applications under the DOL's Permanent Foreign Labor Certification (PERM) program. See my "Pearl Street Scam" post for additional information.

The Department of Labor couldn't seem to make a go of the H-1B Technical Skills Training Program in order to train American workers for American jobs. However, they seemed to do a stellar job of reducing the PERM applications backlogs and bringing in as many foreign workers as they could, as quickly as possible. The Department issued a proud announcement on October 1, 2007 that:
.......the permanent foreign labor certification program’s backlog has been eliminated, with nearly 99 percent of cases completed and the remainder awaiting responses from employers. For almost three years, more than 300 workers in two processing centers reviewed approximately 363,000 pending labor applications, a backlog created as a result of legislative changes in 1997 and 2000.
Even more proudly:
"We applaud the accomplishments of the dedicated individuals whose critical role allowed the ongoing operation of employment-based immigration programs,” said Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “Their resolve to the mission of seeing the task through to its successful completion is an inspiration to all who serve and do the public’s business.”
Based on what we know about Ms. DeRocco, forgive me if I have my doubts as to whether the numbers of Americans employed in the manufacturing sector will rise at any time in the near future.

(Cross-posted to Carrie's Nation.)

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