July 4, 2013

Regarding the June 29 article “Immigration bill blocks builders”:

Now that the immigration reform bill has made it through the Senate, members of the House must remember one thing as they debate guest-worker provisions: There are 12 million unemployed workers in this country. The unemployment rate for construction workers was 14 percent in 2012, and in some areas the rate has been 20 percent or higher.

How can we even consider importing temporary foreign workers under such circumstances? Historically, our country’s construction workforce has been developed through apprenticeship programs. Our skilled craft apprenticeship system has trained millions of Americans for quality careers in the building trades, providing men and women with an opportunity to provide for their families, send their children to college and obtain health benefits and retirement security. Apprenticeship programs have also been successful at helping transitioning service members.

To meet future demand, we need to strengthen our training programs that prepare American workers for the jobs of tomorrow — not allow companies to depend on a steady supply of disposable foreign labor.

William P. Hite, Annapolis

The writer is general president of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada and Australia.