FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Schaumann
Contact: Heather Finney
Judge Issues Injunction Blocking H-2B Rule Changes From Going Into Effect
HERNDON, Va., April 30, 2012 — PLANET, The Professional Landcare Network, has been working to stop the implementation of both the H-2B wage rule and the H-2B program rule that were released by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in the last year.
PLANET, a plantiff in the case entitled Bayou Lawn & Landscape Services, et al., v. Hilda Solis, et al., received notification last night that Judge M. Casey Rodgers of the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division granted a preliminary injunction preventing the DOL from implementing the program rule.
Judge Rodger’s ruling should also impact the DOL’s plans to implement the wage rule which Congress has blocked from taking effect until September 30, 2012.
PLANET Attorney Richard Lehr noted that Judge Rogers relied extensively on the sworn statement from PLANET CEO Sabeena Hickman, CAE, CMP, detailing the serious harm the H-2B changes would cause to PLANET members.
Going forward, the parties have 60 days from the date of the order in which to file motions for summary judgment, and they have an additional 14 days in which to respond to the opposing parties’ motion. While the ruling was issued in Florida, the decision applies nationwide.
“We expect that the Department of Labor will appeal the decision, but that will likely take months,” said Tom Delaney, director of government affairs at PLANET. “In the meantime, our members can continue to use the H-2B workers who are so vital to their businesses.”
The new program rule, that was stopped by injunction, would require employers to hire any qualified U.S. worker up to 21 days before an H-2B worker is scheduled to begin, even if the employer has already offered the job to an H-2B worker, assisted with that worker’s visa process, and paid transportation, housing, and other associated fees. The proposed rule would also involve labor unions in the hiring process and would require employers to pay transportation and subsistence costs for potential U.S. workers who are employed for at least 50 percent of the season. In addition, the rule includes provisions requiring employers to pay workers with “corresponding employment” duties similar wages.
The H-2B worker program was created in 1987 as amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act. It provides nonimmigrant alien labor for nonagricultural employers in the United States when U.S. workers are not available.
The Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) is an association representing more than 100,000 lawn and landscape professionals in the United States and Canada. PLANET member firms provide a wide range of landscape, lawn care, tree care, irrigation and water management, and interior plantscape services, including consultation, design, installation, and maintenance. PLANET members are dedicated to improving the environment through public service projects and responsible stewardship. PLANET promotes professionalism in the industry by providing continuing education, legislative advocacy, and administering the professional certification known as Landscape Industry Certified. For more information about PLANET, visit LandcareNetwork.org.