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Legislation authored by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh/Berks), known as the Construction Industry Employee Verification Act, has become law after passing with veto-proof support without Governor Wolf’s signature. It will require employers in the construction industry to use the federal E-Verify system to ensure that their employees don’t include individuals not authorized to work in the United States.
“Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous employers who hire individuals not authorized to work in the United States for their construction teams,” said Mackenzie. “These employers and their unfair business practices hurt workers by driving down wages, create an unlevel playing field for other employers to compete against, and deprive government of revenue that would be used to fund programs like unemployment compensation.”
The new law is aimed at going after dishonest employers. Failure to use E-Verify when hiring new employees will result in action against a company’s licenses required to do business (i.e. corporate charters, as well as any other business license). The law is modeled after Arizona’s statute, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This law will not only act as a deterrent to construction companies from hiring unauthorized workers but will also hold them accountable if they do break the law,” said Mackenzie. “We cannot let companies get away with unprincipled hiring practices that take jobs away from legal citizens.”
In an interview with WHYY in Philadelphia Governor Tom Wolf said, wouldn’t sign the bill, but he also wouldn’t veto it allowing the bill to become law saying, “On the one hand, you have concerns about what this does to immigrants, people who come to the country looking for opportunity or asylum. On the other hand,” he said, “it’s a legitimate attempt to protect the legitimate rights of workers who want to make sure that their jobs aren’t being taken away by someone who might be working for an unscrupulous contractor who would be paying them less than they deserve to get paid.”
House Bill 1170 was co-sponsored by Rep. John Galloway (D-Bucks) and passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly. The House voted 170-28 in favor of the bill and the Senate voted 46-3. The measure passed the legislature with veto-proof support.
“I am proud of the fact that Rep. Galloway and I were able to work together and find common ground on this issue,” said Mackenzie. “We were also able to bring both union and nonunion stakeholders together to achieve the overarching goal of preserving jobs for legal U.S. citizens.”
Furthermore, a Zogby Analytics Online Survey completed in May of this year asked the question, “What also may be in the immigration plan is a requirement that all U.S. employers use E-Verify to make sure that all new employees are lawfully present in the U.S. and legally eligible to work. Do you support or oppose this requirement?” A total of 76.6% of voters who took the survey support the requirement.
The law will go into effect in one year.