Your Help is Needed Immediately to Save the H-2B Program!
Thanks to all the PLANET members who spent time during the Legislative Day on the Hill talking to their elected officials about the H-2B program. Several Senators and Members of Congress are now more aware of the harm that the Department of Labor’s H-2B rules will pose for landscape contractors and other seasonal businesses. A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives are planning to send a letter to DOL asking the Department to rescind both the final H-2B wage rule and the March 18 H-2B proposed rule! Please call your Senators and Member of Congress today and ask them to sign this letter that is being circulated by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA).
This letter to DOL will be a bipartisan letter signed by both Senators and Congressmen. You can reach your Senators and Members of Congress by calling the Capitol switch board at 202-225-3121. Ask for your Senator or Representative’s office. Once connected to the office ask to speak to the staff person in charge on immigration issues. Explain the importance of the H-2B program to your industry or your business. Please ask that the Senator or Representative sign the letter. The deadline to sign on is August 5. Congress is getting ready to adjourn for the August recess, so please call immediately.
A final DOL rule slated to go into effect around October 1, 2011 will artificially increase H-2B hourly wages by more than 50 percent. According to DOL’s own estimates, the rule will increase H-2B wages for landscaping services by about $3.60 per hour. The actual cost to H-2B users could be far greater than DOL’s estimates because DOL does not account for labor increases for similarly employed American workers or more experienced American workers whose pay should reflect the greater skill or experience level and be proportional to the hourly wage earned by lesser skilled workers. It also does not include additional payroll costs, workers compensation insurance, overtime costs and other associated increases.
A second DOL proposed rule, published in the March 18, 2011 Federal Register, would make the program even more expensive and complicated to use. For example, the rule would require employers to hire any qualified U.S. worker up to three days before the H-2B worker is scheduled to begin, even though the employer has already offered the job to the H-2B worker, assisted with the visa process and paid transportation, housing and other associated fees. The proposed rule would also involve labor unions in the hiring process and require employers to pay transportation and subsistence costs for potential U.S. workers. A brief explanation of the DOL rules can be found here.
Please call your Senators and Member of Congress today and ask them to the sign the letter! If any Senators or Members of Congress want to sign the letter or have any questions, they can contact Brent Robinson in Rep. Robert Wittman’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details can be found in the “dear colleague” letter.