May 28, 2011

Supreme Court Upholds Arizona Immigration Law

By a 5-3 vote Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld an Arizona law that imposes sanctions against businesses that hire illegal immigrants. The court also upheld the state’s law requiring all employers to utilize E-Verify, a federal electronic employment eligibility verification system that had been voluntary nationwide. Leaders of agricultural groups, including American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA), were quick to respond to the ruling. What are the implications for greenhouse and nursery growers? “First, some state legislatures, which have been contemplating such laws but have held back waiting for the high court’s decision, may now proceed,” says Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA’s vice president of government relations and research. “So we may see more states take immigration law into their own hands.” A few states, like Georgia, did not wait. “Georgia’s law was signed recently by Governor Nathan Deal,” Regelbrugge adds. “Already, it is having a devastating impact on the farm sector. […]

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May 23, 2011

ANLA Defends Current & Future Labor Source

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) has taken action in response to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently proposed changes to the H-2B program. Widely used by landscape installation and maintenance professionals and other seasonal employers seeking a legal workforce, these proposed changes would increase filing requirements and advertising timelines for employers seeking to fill positions. Employers will be subject to stricter requirements to hire any and all available U.S. workers, despite historically low interest and retention of these applicants. “DOL’s proposed changes will render the program unworkable for responsible landscape installation and maintenance employers seeking a legal, seasonal workforce,” says Hadley Sosnoff, ANLA’s director of government relations. Submitting comments to DOL for review, ANLA is pursuing a three-pronged approach to defending the H-2B program. First, ANLA joined partners in the H-2B Workforce Coalition to convey how the changes will negatively affect the program and employers. ANLA also […]

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April 29, 2011

Economic Recovery Brings Immigration Debate Back To Forefront

During the last recession, the green industry got a bit of a reprieve in that the country’s attention was focused on the economic downturn. Now that things are improving, dialogue regarding various immigration policies is resurfacing, particularly among the enforcement only camp. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is currently conducting I-9 immigration audits at many greenhouse, nursery and landscape businesses across the country. Even if you are in compliance, the results can be devastating as you are forced to terminate experienced and valued workers. Poor compliance practices can mean thousands of dollars in fines – or worse. While the impacts of an audit cannot be completely avoided, smart preparation can save you time and money. Compliance is only one facet of the immigration reform issue, though. Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA vice president for government relations, who co-chairs the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (ACIR), will give a brief update […]

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April 29, 2011

Color Spot Leasing Hines Locations

Hines Nurseries has signed a letter of intent to sell assets from its nurseries in Chino Valley, Ariz., and Fulshear, Texas, to Color Spot Nurseries, the largest greenhouse operation in the United States. Hines will own and operate the nurseries until closing in June 2011, when Color Spot will purchase the assets of the facilities and lease the land from Hines. Hines, which also sold assets from its location in Fresno, Calif., will continue to serve its customers nationwide from nurseries in Fallbrook and Winters, Calif., and Forest Grove, Ore. “Focusing on the nursery business for all our customers is the next step in our strategic plan to rebuild Hines,” says Steve Thigpen, Hines CEO. “This is a milestone in our long-range strategy to transform Hines Growers into a strong, progressive nursery company.” Hines’ Arizona location encompasses 40 acres of nursery and 400,000 square feet of greenhouse space. Its Texas location includes 420 […]

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April 28, 2011

Poll: Majority Favor Immigration Reform With Pathway to Citizenship

A small majority of likely voters favor comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants with no criminal record–but not amnesty–a new IBOPE Zogby Interactive survey finds. The survey, conducted from April 21-25 also finds nearly half (47 percent) believe reform legislation should require that the undocumented be deported, even if it splits up their families. Almost three quarters (73 percent) support increased funding to patrol U.S. borders. Learn more about the results at

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December 29, 2010

Supplementing The H-2A Program

A Midwestern grower, like many of his colleagues across the country, has a difficult time pinning down reliable, hard-working Americans to work in his greenhouses. He’s turned to H-2A on occasion for labor solutions, but the program is a costly one and litigation prone, so he’s looked for help elsewhere. Two places the grower has turned are the Communications for America Education Program (CAEP) and the Minnesota Agricultural Student Trainee (MAST) program. Both have become great labor sources for him and easier to manage than H-2A. Both are also programs many growers know little about. “What I like about CAEP is they’re nice people to deal with, they are flexible and they try to find you the people who best match your individual situation,” says the Midwestern grower. “Some other programs do that, too.” MAST is a flexible program, as well, and it’s one the Midwestern grower heard about through […]

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December 22, 2010

The Power Of Service Learning Programs

Central Missouri Subcontracting Enterprise (CMSE) is a sheltered workshop that has provided employment for developmentally disabled adults for 40 years. CMSE subcontracts assembly work for dozens of manufacturers in central Missouri, like 3M, Quaker Oats, Square D, ABC Labs, plus hospitals and publishers. It had flourished until last year, when several clients cut back due to the economy and outsourcing overseas. Executive Director Bruce Young was devastated. He would have to find more sources to keep 130 people employed. He sought help at his local Rotary Club meeting of business friends. Member Bill Regan answered the call: “Build a greenhouse!” So they did. The Project A greenhouse with 5,400 square feet was built adjacent to CMSE’s facility. Regan brought many skills to the new enterprise. He has a master’s degree in horticulture, 35 years of experience propagating geranium cuttings and he has garden center experience as an owner. He is […]

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November 22, 2010

HIRE Act: Tax Incentives For Hiring Unemployed Workers

Did you know the government enacted two tax benefits last spring available to businesses that hired workers who were previously unemployed or working part time? This could impact growers who laid off workers during the winter and rehired (or hired new) in the spring. Here are the facts: –Employers who hire unemployed workers after Feb. 3, 2010 and before Jan. 1, 2011 may qualify for a 6.2 percent payroll tax incentive (in effect, exempting them from their share of Social Security taxes on wages paid to those workers after March 18, 2010). –The reduced tax withholding has no effect on the employee’s future Social Security benefits, and employers still need to withhold the employee’s 6.2 percent share of Social Security taxes, as well as income taxes. The employer and employee’s shares of Medicare taxes would also still apply to these wages. –Also, for each worker retained for at least a […]

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January 14, 2010

Study Says Immigration Reform Is Best Solution

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) shared its perspective with Congressional staff during a briefing that reviewed an important new study regarding immigration reform. The study, conducted by UCLA economist Raul Hinojosa, looked at three possible immigration reform scenarios: comprehensive immigration reform, a temporary worker program only and an enforcement-only scheme based on deportation.  The study found that comprehensive immigration reform that includes legalization and flexible future visa programs will result in $1.5 trillion in economic growth over 10 years. By contrast, reliance on a temporary worker program alone would result in significantly less growth, and a deportation-only approach would bleed $2.5 trillion from the U.S. economy over the same 10-year period.  The study and implications were reviewed in detail in an afternoon Congressional staff briefing led by Hinojosa. Representatives from ANLA and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) then provided perspectives from business and labor. ANLA vice president […]

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January 6, 2010

ANLA Breaks Down Health Care Reform

The following analysis was provided by the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA). The complete analysis is available to members at On Christmas Eve morning, the United States Senate voted to approve its version of a massive health care overhaul. The legislative process is far from over, and enactment into law is not assured. The next step will be for a conference committee to try to produce a final package that may borrow from both the earlier House-passed version, and the Senate bill. The ultimate question is whether moderates and liberals will step over lines already drawn in the sand, to approve a final bill that falls short of their respective goals. Early signs are that the House may largely defer to the Senate’s version, but many do not expect final passage until at least February. Though the process isn’t over, employers everywhere are scrambling to understand what the […]

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November 11, 2009

Clocking In & Out From Your BlackBerry

Exaktime introduces its PocketClock/GPS for Blackberry, software that transforms a BlackBerry smartphone into a portable GPS time clock and management tool for supervisors. PocketClock/GPS lets mobile employees or crews clock in and out at dozens of locations each week. “Having mobile employees use handwritten timecards costs companies a fortune,” says Exaktime CEO Tony Pappas. “With this new BlackBerry version of PocketClock/GPS, our customers can give their mobile teams and their managers a great automated timekeeping tool using the smartphone they already own.” Using PocketClock/GPS, workers easily clock in or out and record what type of work they are doing. Each time punch includes a GPS fix so the office knows the location of every clock in/out and can quickly view the travel times between locations. Managers can also set a virtual perimeter around each jobsite to highlight employees clocking in and out when they are not actually at the worksite. […]

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