Fate Of H-2B Program A Hot Topic On Capitol Hill This Week

The-CapitolThis week may be a make-or-break moment for growers who rely on the H-2B program.

The House Appropriations Committee was scheduled to take up its version of the 2017 fiscal year Department of Homeland Security funding bill on Tuesday, June 14. According to Davi Bowen, Government Relations And Grassroots Representative at AmericanHort, this is the best vehicle for extending the H-2B visa cap’s returning worker exemption for next year. An H-2B returning worker amendment can be offered during the committee’s consideration of the bill. The amendment would extend, for one year, the H-2B returning worker exemption that Congress enacted last December.

Bowen says H-2B provides a critical seasonal labor force to supplement the American workforce in an array of industries, including landscaping.

“These workers must be paid at least the prevailing wage for the job in the area of employment, and while landscaping is the single largest user of H-2B visas, H-2B still represents less than 5% of landscape industry employment,” Bowen says. “Yet, the helping hands of H-2B workers are critical in the peak seasons, and they support the job security of many thousands of American workers in the sector.”

There is a way to make your voice heard. Contact any member of the House Appropriations Committee through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. Follow up by customizing and sending an email message to your own Representative.

Last year, the committee included the H-2B returning worker exemption as a policy rider on its bill. This policy helped many landscape industry and other employers to avoid a train wreck this spring when the H-2B cap was hit. The returning worker exemption also provides an incentive for temporary, seasonal workers to respect the rule of law, and abide by the terms of their visa, returning home when the work is done.

Presenting a unified front, AmericanHort and the National Association of Landscape Professionals submitted joint written testimony for the hearing.

“The helping hands of temporary and seasonal H-2B workers lift up the job security and success of thousands upon thousands of American workers employed in industries like horticulture and landscaping,” says Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort Senior Vice President. “Rather than scapegoating a program that works, Congress should recognize its benefits, and get on with the business of modernizing America’s immigration and visa programs in the interest of the economy.”

Speaking Up On The Significance Of H-2B

One June 8, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest held a hearing titled, “The H-2B Temporary Foreign Worker Program: Examining the Effects on Americans’ Job Opportunities and Wages.” The Committee chairman, Jeff Sessions (R-AL), invited a panel of union, worker advocates, and immigration restrictionists who presented a hostile picture of the program as a threat to American workers and wages.

Fortunately, one witness, Dr. Stephen Bronars of Edgeworth Economics, expressed a sharply divergent view. Bronars, the former head of the Economics Department at the University of Texas at Austin, testified as follows:

“There should be little disagreement about the economic impact of the H-2B visa program. This program allows non-agricultural U.S. employers to alleviate some seasonal labor shortages by hiring foreign-born temporary workers. In my opinion, the H-2B program benefits small businesses, workers, and consumers in the U.S. Scaling back the H-2B program will have a deleterious effect on revenue, employment, and wages in some seasonal industries. In contrast, an increase in the number of H-2B visas that can be issued each year would benefit workers, consumers, and small businesses in the U.S.”

In recent years, Bronars has advised AmericanHort and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform on wage and other economic considerations, especially during the negotiation of S.744, the immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013.

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Labor...
Berger-Equipment

November 17, 2017

How You Can Help Berger in Donating to Hurricane Harvey Victims (While Learning More About Plant Production)

Between Nov. 23-27, Berger will donate $1 for every download of its free technical plant production guides to hurricane relief efforts.

Read More
Damarys-Mora-Crawford-Costa-Farms

November 16, 2017

Costa Farms’ New Marketing Director Eager to Tap Into Changing Consumer Needs

In her new position, Damarys Mora Crawford will lead Costa Farms’ marketing team and create and execute strategic marketing initiatives to support continued sales growth for the company’s retail customers.

Read More
Cordyline Candy Cane (Excelsa Gardens, Inc.)

November 14, 2017

Garden-Retailers Pick Their Favorite Products From The Landscape Show

Grower-retailers have once again named their favorite new products, this time as part of the Cool Product Awards at The Landscape Show 2017 in Orlando, FL. Awards were presented to 12 companies, representing 14 products.

Read More
Latest Stories

October 27, 2017

AmericanHort Issues Statement on the House Judiciary Co…

The Committee’s action is just the first step in what will be a long and important legislative process.

Read More
Capitol Hill_ feature

October 19, 2017

AmericanHort’s Main Priorities After Impact Washi…

Now that Impact Washington is over, AmericanHort, with industry support, is looking to continue its focus on tax reform, labor reform, and research and innovation.

Read More
Workers

July 25, 2017

H-2B Gets Cap Increase – Here’s How it Impacts Ho…

Greenhouse Grower caught up with AmericanHort’s Craig Regelbrugge to find out how changes to the non-agricultural guestworker program impacts us, and what it could mean for changes to H-2A, the agricultural guestworker program.

Read More
North Creek Nurseries Head Grower and Owner

July 9, 2017

How to Empower Your Future Managers

If you’re looking to retain employees and develop effective managers, provide them with the skills they need to realize their highest potential.

Read More
Heat Safety App

June 18, 2017

Protect Your Employees from Heat-Related Illnesses with…

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have released an updated app for smart phones that can help workers stay safe when working outdoors in hot weather.

Read More
labor-supply-and-quality

March 27, 2017

Your Help is Needed to Save H-2B Returning Worker Exemp…

AmericanHort is leading the charge on this effort, but you can also help by contacting your elected officials via phone calls and social media, or by sending AmericanHort your personal story.

Read More
epa-wps-guide-feature-image

January 2, 2017

How Do You Comply With the New Worker Protection Standa…

EPA, in conjunction with the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative, has provided a guide to help users of agricultural pesticides comply with the requirements of the 2015 revised federal Worker Protection Standard.

Read More
Workers are required to wear uniforms and use tools restricted to the section of the facility where they work, and street clothes are prohibited

December 16, 2016

House Failure To Address H-2B Exemption Could Affect Sp…

Despite efforts by AmericanHort and others in the industry, the House of Representatives failed to renew the Returning Worker Exemption, a policy that helps ensure that small and seasonal businesses have an adequate workforce for the peak spring season.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-veterans-workforce

December 13, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Navigates The H-2A Program

Joe Bailey, Human Resources Director at Bailey Nurseries says each operation has to analyze their situation and decide for themselves if the H-2A program is right for them.

Read More
bailey-nurseries-team-feature

December 5, 2016

How Bailey Nurseries Has Found Solutions To The Labor S…

A changing seasonal workforce led this Minnesota-based company to explore new labor sources through the H-2A program and refugee organizations, and it’s working out for the better.

Read More
american-floral-endowment-horticulture-careers-video

October 26, 2016

New American Floral Endowment Video Creates Awareness A…

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has created a video to promote careers in floriculture and horticulture and to inform students about AFE scholarship and internship programs.

Read More
worker-protection-standard

October 25, 2016

EPA’s Worker Protection Changes To Take Effect In Janua…

The EPA has made a significant number of changes to the Worker Protection Standard, and growers must be compliant by January 2017. Experts from Michigan State University Extension outline how some of these changes could affect you.

Read More
young-professionals

October 25, 2016

AFE Develops Employer Resource Guide For Floral Interns…

The guide was created to help greenhouse and floral companies build a successful internship program, with easy-to-use guidelines and steps to create meaningful learning experiences for the next generation of business leaders.

Read More
EuroAmerican Propagators Greenhouses

October 4, 2016

The New Realities Of Labor Broached At AmericanHort’s 2…

During a labor presentation given at AmericanHort’s 2016 Plug & Cutting Conference, three industry players give their take on the current labor crisis and offer solutions to address the growing challenges.

Read More
Employees separate the plants by stem count, bud development and height. “This process allows us to respond more quickly to specific requests from customers,” Van Wingerden says

September 22, 2016

AmericanHort Hosting Webinar On Overtime Rule Complianc…

The webinar takes place on Thursday, Sept. 29. AmericanHort is also throwing its support behind the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act.

Read More
Workers

September 20, 2016

How California’s New Overtime Law Will Affect Greenhous…

Some growers say they will have to make hard decisions about worker benefits or the crops they grow. One thing is certain: the need to automate is now more critical than ever.

Read More
Workers at Golden State Bulb Growers clean Calla tubers and select the best quality bulbs, placing them on conveyors to be graded, counted and sorted in the new system

September 13, 2016

Newly Signed California Law Expands Overtime To Farmwor…

The new law, which will be phased in beginning in 2019, is the first of its kind in the nation to end the 80-year-old practice of applying separate labor rules to agricultural laborers.

Read More
Workers at The Farm at Green Village

September 10, 2016

Now Is The Best Time To Demand Federal H-2B Program Sup…

Congress is expected to pass a continuing resolution spending bill in the near future, and whether or not that measure includes an H-2B returning worker exemption could impact your labor supply for 2017.

Read More