Walmart and Chobani have co-founded the Corporate Roundtable for the New American Workforce, to encourage companies to devise and offer benefits that value their immigrant employees and will strengthen their immigrant workforce and immigrant integration, according to this item in Bloomberg Law.
Joined by corporations such as Ben & Jerry’s, Lyft, Marriott, Tyson Foods, and Uber, these companies are offering English classes, and also immigration legal aid to help with the citizenship application process. Offering these benefits helps them both to attract and retain workers, in a tight labor market, and also recognizes the value of immigrants in the workforce.
The initiative has multiple goals, as the article notes:
(W)hile the Corporate Roundtable program’s main offerings are free legal aid to help with the naturalization process and English language classes, the initiative is also aimed at combating the view that helping immigrant workers reduces opportunities for the U.S.-born.
In Maine, LD 647, approved by the State Legislature in 2019 but needing to pass the finish line in 2020, would provide funds to help employers launch combined English and job skills classes at their worksites. MeBIC and many of its coalition partners supported that legislation. The Corporate Roundtable has drafted a letter inviting businesses nationwide to commit to supporting similar efforts. The letter states:
To: American Companies and Business Leaders
Since its foundation, the United States has been a home to immigrants, who come with dreams and in search of greater opportunities. These newcomers embody America’s identity and are important contributors of economic growth and social, civic, and cultural life.
As a collection of global companies and business leaders, we are grateful that 41 million immigrants from all over the world came to the United States to raise their families, seek an education, and contribute to our communities and companies. They represent one in six workers and help America remain economically strong in a globally competitive market.
Our labor force will only continue to grow and diversify. The foreign born portion of the total U.S. working population increased from 13.1% in 2000 to 17.4% in 2018.[i] Due to the increase, we understand the necessity to support immigrant integration at work and in society. Through this support, we are helping newcomers more quickly contribute and better utilize their skills and talents, which benefits their families, employers, communities, and our economy.
We are pleased that these companies have supported immigrant integration through establishing company practices, offering worksite services, initiating pro-immigrant communications efforts and immigration policy advocacy. Specifically, some companies, like Walmart and NVIDIA, are helping their immigrant employees and family members with the naturalization process, while other companies, like Lyft and Chobani, have offered English classes to their workers.
We encourage all companies to support their diverse workforce by offering immigrant integration services at their workplaces, aiming to continue to create a welcoming environment for all newcomers and building communities where all can thrive.
Maine businesses can find other signatories and sign on to the letter here. Businesses that want to help get LD 647 enacted in 2020 are encouraged to contact MeBIC.