A top labor leader on Friday backed a push to overhaul U.S. immigration laws. 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said his organization would support a bid to overhaul the nation's immigration system in tandem with strengthening labor laws for immigrants.

"Too many U.S. employers actually like the current state of the immigration system — a system where immigrants are both plentiful and undocumented, afraid and available," Trumka said in a speech on Friday at the City Club of Cleveland.

"That is why the AFL-CIO is fighting to fix this broken immigration system as a crucial element of our broader economic strategy," the labor leader later added.

The speech by Trumka marks a pivot point for the union in its approach toward immigration. During the administration of President George W. Bush, the union opposed a comprehensive immigration reform plan that would have established a guest worker program.

Trumka said now that the AFL-CIO would support immigration reform that gives illegal residents a path to citizenship along the lines of the ways Democrats have outlined in legislation. But the union leader also said that wages and rules for immigrants should also be commensurate with other workers — those who were most likely to face competition from a slew of new, low-wage employees in the workforce.

Still, many observers have acknowledged that immigration reform will be difficult to move this year. Trumka's remarks could set the table for negotiations on immigration once the new Congress meets next year, however.