THE BLOG
06/03/2013 02:54 pm ET | Updated Aug 03, 2013

Why Big Business Wants More Guestworkers

Last week, you met Martha Uvalle, who defied threats of violence and blew the whistle on labor abuse in the H-2B guestworker program -- helping protect the wages and conditions of 24 million U.S. workers.

Today, I want to introduce you to KahInn Lee. At the start of 2012, a McDonald's franchisee used the J-1 student guestworker program to bring KahInn and other students from around the world to work at its restaurants in Central Pennsylvania.

KahInn and her fellow McDonald's guestworkers faced sub-minimum wage pay, shifts of up to 25 hours with no overtime pay, and threats to suppress complaints. They were packed into employer-owned basement housing, up to eight students to a room, for which they had $300 each per month directly deducted from their pay.

Like Martha, who blew the whistle on labor abuse on the Walmart supply chain, KahInn went on strike to expose McDonald's labor abuse. When she did, she didn't just stand up for other guestworkers. She helped protect the wages and conditions of the 12 million U.S. workers alongside guestworkers in the food service industry.

Corporations that use guestworkers as a source of sub-minimum wage, exploitable labor -- corporations like McDonald's -- are pushing for a huge expansion of guestworker programs as part of immigration reform. They are doing this even when the bill will legalize up to 15 million workers, most of who are already working in the same sectors.

That's why immigration reform needs to protect guestworker whistleblowers like KahInn and Martha. If they can't stand up to expose labor abuse, the tens of millions of U.S. workers alongside them are trapped in a race to the bottom, and job quality falls for all workers.

But when guestworkers have the protections they need to blow the whistle on abuse, they help lift the floor for all workers.

Watch KahInn's story, then ask your members of Congress to make sure immigration reform includes key protections for guestworkers -- for the sake of all America's workers.

And on June 6, join KahInn and workers in more than 30 countries for a Global Day of Action against labor abuse and for freedom of association at McDonald's worldwide!

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