Protesters put on signs for immigrant rights, in downtown Chicago, Friday, March 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Business, labor strike a deal on guest workers

Business and labor groups have reached an agreement on a temporary worker program, a final major sticking point in negotiations over a draft comprehensive immigration reform bill.

A source with knowledge of the negotiations confirmed the deal reached in principle to NBC News.

The AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had been tussling over wages for temporary workers authorized to work in the United States in industries such as construction and hospitality.

According to the AFL-CIO, the deal reached would create a new “W” visa program for temporarily year-round low-skilled foreign workers as well as a new “Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research” that would make recommendations about the program to Congress.

The program, scheduled to go into effect in 2015, would start at 20,000 visas, increasing in subsequent years up to as many as 200,000 visas per year.

The number of visas granted would fluctuate based on an economic formula that would take into account unemployment and the Bureau’s recommendations. Businesses would be required to pay the temporary workers at the same rate as others performing the same job, or at the prevailing wage for the occupational category they are in – whichever is greater.

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