Here's a document detailing the agreement between labor and business that was reached on Friday re: low skilled workers. (h/t Steve Greenhouse). It is the most detailed document I have seen thus far about what the agreement covers.
Highlights: A new "W visa" will be created for low skilled occupations that are non-seasonal, like in retail, hotels, and janitorial industries. The squabbles between labor and business about which industries would be included and exempt as well as the wages to be paid have been decided. There are supposedly labor protections for these workers.
Head-scratchers: It's unclear whether the visa is temporary or not. The Scrib memo states, "The W visa is not a temporary visa. Workers will have the ability to self-petition for permanent status after a year." Meanwhile, many other articles including the one by the New York Times by Ashley Parker and Steven Greenhouse called it a "guest worker program", implying these are temporary visas, but also noted, "Under the deal, guest workers would be allowed to pursue a path to citizenship and to change jobs after they arrived in the United States."
I have stated in a previous posting that this part is a head-scratcher. The W visa designation signals the visa is a temporary visa, meaning it does not lead to a Green Card. Temporary visas are like milk; they have an expiration date. But it seems that after one year of the temporary visa, W workers can apply for a path to citizenship. And this is where they've completely lost me, because under permanent immigration (leads to a Green Card and citizenship) employment categories, the W visa workers would not meet the qualifications for any of them exisititng categories.
While I like the idea of W workers, or any workers for that matter not having their visa status tied to one U.S. employer, thereby giving that employer tremendous power over the immigrant, I'm entirely unclear about how the self-petitioning would even worker under the current system. And I reiterate my point that labor and the Chamber of Commerce have no business or expertise writing that aspect of the policy since they have such narrow views of immigration. I suspect in negotiations, that part will drop out, thereby leaving us with yet another garden variety temporary work visa.