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Who is USA-IT?

January/February 2002 IBEW Journal

None of this would have been necessary if not for the organization that conceived the scheme in the first place, USA-IT.

A major player behind USA-IT is Dennis Laskin, who in April 1996 pleaded guilty to defrauding several banks as a partner in a real estate development company. In the early 1990s, Laskin was involved in a controversial program that helped wealthy foreigners obtain American visas.

USA-ITs president is Diego Acencio, formerly ambassador to Brazil and Columbia.

It has been reported to the IBEW that USA-IT, not to be deterred, is again targeting building trades workers, this time plumbers and roofers, for the J-1 program.

The IBEW cooperated in the reporting of several investigative newspaper articles in The Baltimore Sun and the Albuquerque Journal that helped bring the J-1 exploitations to light. USA-ITs defense as told to the newspapers framed the organization as an innocent player caught in a conflict between the IBEW and non-union contractors.

IBEW Construction Organizing Director Burke said both the courts and the court of public opinion scoff at that claim. The IBEW was able to show the value of organized labor by upholding working conditions for all who work in that industry, Burke said.

The depth to which USA-IT and the contractors who employed the workers will sink is astonishing, IBEW President Edwin D. Hill said.

The gross manipulation of the J-1 program should serve as a reminder that we cannot ease up on our vigilance to root out worker exploitation, wherever it exists, President Hill said. If they can overcome international borders to exploit workers, then this is a vivid call for us as trade unionists to reach across borders to stand together as workers.

From Shadow to Light