Immigration reform, unions, business, politics

Governor Chet Culver today appointed a task force to try to crackdown on contractors who hire workers, classify them as independent contractors and use the maneuver to pay them less, perhaps even less than minimum wage.  Some charge contractors use the maneuver to cover up their employment of illegal immigrants.

One political element here is some see Culver’s move as an olive branch to organized labor.  Unions charge contractors misclassify employees as independent contractors, pay them significantly below standard wages and win bids over contractors who follow the rules (and employ union workers).  Some Republicans and Democrats argued against such a crackdown on contractors when the legislature debated this issue this past spring, saying it’s too hard for businesses to determine whether job applicants are legal residents since there’s no tamper-proof ID to ensure residency status. 

Below you’ll be able to read the news release Culver issued, followed by one from House Republican Leader Christopher Rants and another from Senate Republican Leader Ron Wieck.

DES MOINES – Today, Governor Chet Culver signed Executive Order 8, which establishes the Independent Contractor Reform Task Force.  Composed of representatives from state government, the Executive Order will review and make recommendations on state regulations as they pertain to employee misclassification.

“I believe a fair and just workplace is the right of every worker.  Employers who contribute to the local economy should not have to compete with those employers who choose to break the law by knowingly misclassifying their employees,” said Governor Culver.  “With my signature, Executive Order 8 establishes the Independent Contractor Reform Task Force, and I am proud to stand with hardworking Iowans and Iowa businesses as we come together in our commitment to independent contractor reform.”

The new task force will be composed of representatives from the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Department of Labor, Iowa Department of Revenue and the Iowa Department of Labor.  The task force is tasked with identifying aspects of existing law and business practices related to employee misclassification, and will report to the Governor in 60 days on any recommendations on how to strengthen or improve Iowa law or administrative rule.

(DES MOINES) —Today House Republican Leader Christopher Rants (R-Sioux City) released a statement upon learning that Governor Culver will be forming a special committee to address Iowa immigration reform.

“If Democrats would have addressed the serious issue of illegal immigration in Iowa during the legislative session, this still wouldn’t be a problem today,” said Rants.  “The truth is, Democrats never had any intention of solving the problems associated with illegal immigration.  Instead they just wanted to play politics with an issue to look busy during an election year.”

Rants added that House Republicans supported numerous pieces of legislation aimed at solving Iowa’s problems with illegal immigration.  Some of those include requiring employers to participate in e-Verify before receiving state development assistance as well as restricting the eligibility for Iowa’s drivers licenses. 

(Des Moines) — After inaction from his own party, Governor Culver announced the establishment of a task force to examine the growing illegal immigration problem in Iowa.  In light of the Democrat’s stated platform of change, Senate Republicans expect that this important issue will be approached in a bipartisan manner.

“Senate Republicans advocated for bipartisan solutions at the beginning of the session that filled in the gaps left by the federal government. We had a great opportunity to step up and be proactive but Democrats chose to do nothing,” said Senate Minority Leader Ron Wieck (R-Sioux City).  “Unfortunately, the tired old position of previous years of ‘let us study the issue more,’ has won out over action.”

Senate Republicans established an illegal immigration task force at the beginning of the 2008 Legislative Session and introduced legislation based upon similar laws in Oklahoma which called for:

No tuition assistance to illegal immigrants for universities and community colleges
Employers using a status verification system to check all employees for alien status prior to hiring
Punish businesses that knowingly hire illegal aliens with a graduated scale for punishment.
Requiring state troopers to go through ICE training as well as provide dedicated officers in each district for immigration enforcement

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.