Great News if You Use the H2B Visa Program for Your Lawn Care Business!

From Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu’s office 09/22/2011:

“Given the legislative action taken by the Appropriations Committee last night, earlier today U.S. DOL informed our team that they will delay implementing the Oct. 1 effective date of the new H2B visa wage methodology rules by 60 days. DOL will announce the 60-day delay in the Federal Register next week.” 

A lawsuit was filled on 9/22 challanging the legality of the recent H2B Visa rule change.

For more details see… Bayou Lawn & Landscape Services et al., v. Hilda L. Solis, et al.  It challenges the legal authority of US DOL to make such changes to the Wage methodology and accelerated effective date. The case was filed in the North District of Florida, Pensacola Division and registered as Case No. 3:11-cv-00445-MCR-EMT.

I am committed to a 100% legal work force.  If you are as well and you use the H2B Visa program please continue to contact your Representatives in the House and Senate to support you in this Temporary Worker Program (H-2B).

My company has and we will remain committed to fighting to protect our legal work force.

Reposted below, the DOL’s press release announcing the temporary implementation of the wage change.

See the original post at http://www.dol.gov/opa/media/press/eta/eta20111404.htm.

News Release

ETA News Release: [09/22/2011]
Contact Name: Dave Roberts or Sonia Melendez
Phone Number: (202) 693-5945 or x4672
Release Number: 11-1404-NAT

US Labor Department postpones revising wage calculations for H-2B program

Delay avoids administering the H-2B program under potentially conflicting court orders

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration today announced a 60-day postponement of the effective date for the final rule concerning the wage methodology for the temporary nonagricultural employment H-2B program. The delay will permit the various courts involved in ongoing litigation surrounding the implementation of the rule to determine the appropriate venue for the resolution of all claims and allow the department to avoid the possibility of administering the H-2B program under potentially conflicting court orders.

In consideration of these pending challenges, the department determined under Section 705 of the Administrative Procedure Act that the interest of justice would be served by postponing the effective date of the rule from Sept. 30, 2011, until Nov. 30, 2011. A Federal Register notice to that effect will be published next week.

The H-2B program allows the entry of foreign workers into the U.S. when qualified U.S. workers are not available and the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The H-2B program is limited by law to a cap of 66,000 visas per year.

The department published a final rule on Jan. 19, 2011, that revised the wage methodology for the H-2B program and set the effective date of the wage rule as Jan. 1, 2012.  On June 16, 2011, in response to a challenge, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania invalidated that date and ordered the department to announce a new effective date within 45 days.

In response to that court’s order, the department issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on June 28, 2011, which proposed that the wage rule take effect 60 days from the date of publication of a final rule. After a period of public comment, the department published a final rule on Aug. 1, 2011, which set the new effective date for the wage rule as Sept. 30, 2011, without altering the substance of the rule.

Is the H2B Visa Program Intentionally Being Destroyed?

I am a fan of the H2B Visa program.  For any company that needs a lot of workers and truly intends to use a 100% legal work force it is absolutely necessary.  However, based on both past and new legislation, regarding the program, I believe it is intentionally being destroyed.

If you participate in the program and are unaware… as of October 1st 2011 you must adjust the wages you pay H2B Visa workers.  You cannot wait until next year.

If your lawn care & landscape business utilizes the H2B Visa program I strongly encourage you to contact your H2B Visa lawyer to make certain you are on top of these changes and will be in compliance come October.

Also, you should seriously consider writing, calling and emailing your local Congressmen and the US Department of Labor.  We have done so.  I hope you will as well.

I suggest that you let them know that the current legislation will potentially render the H2B Visa program useless.  The program has reached the point of becoming too costly and too complicated.

Your Congressman must understand that the most recent changes to the program will increase your wages beyond what is reasonable.   This program, I believe, now forces employers to pay foreign workers more than U.S. workers.

How can that be right?  Hence, my belief the program is intentionally being slowly dismantled through legislation.

Let your Congressman know that you do not participate in the H2B Visa program because it is easy or saves you money – you participate because it is necessary in order for you to find the essential legal temporary workers you must have to operate your business.

In my opinion, available skilled labor continues to be one of the absolute biggest issues within the industry.  These legislative changes only worsen the problem.

Additional Resource: http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/pdf/H2B_PWDNPRM-6-28-2011.pdf