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H2B - Did you know...

Discussion in 'General Industry Discussions' started by TPnTX, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    H-2B FAQ (source: Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses)

    Separating Myth from Reality
    The H-2B cap crisis has shown a bright light on the need by America's communities and businesses for temporary seasonal labor. H-2B employers would rather hire American workers than turn to foreign national seasonal help. As H-2B employers know, the H-2B visa process involves going through a complicated and resource-consuming process involving four separate government agencies means. This represents a great deal of agony, frustration and money just to get workers for a few months. However, because the temporary seasonal labor shortage is so severe in many parts of the country, especially during the summer months, law-abiding employers have no choice but to turn to the H-2B program. The employers already hire American workers, and would hire more if they were available. They turn to this inefficient and burdensome visa category because they have no choice in the matter. Unfortunately, the increased attention on the H-2B visa cap has also brought out foes of immigration whose understanding of the program is not complete. Given the complex nature of immigration and immigration law, it is easy to see how misunderstandings can arise. Here, we try to separate myths about the program from reality:

    Myth 1: The H-2B program takes jobs from Americans.
    Employers utilizing the H-2B program go through an intensive recruitment period under the supervision of the Department of Labor. Only after each State's Workforce Agency and the U.S. Department of Labor certify that these people will not negatively impact American jobs are the workers allowed to come.

    Myth 2: If there are unemployed Americans then there is no need for non-immigrant workers.
    H-2B positions are short-term positions. These jobs seldom lead to full-time, gainful employment. A presently unemployed person accepting one of these positions will more than likely be unemployed again within 3-6 months because the job has ended. The point of a job search is to find an opportunity where an individual will remain employed. In addition, a professional, who has been recently laid off, more than likely does not want to work for three months at the beach hot dog stand. Unemployed individuals are searching for circumstances that are similar to their previous work environments. Finally, many H-2B positions are in areas where unemployed individuals are not. For example, resort communities seldom have high unemployment rates because these are very transient communities. At most beach and ski resorts the actual population in these towns are very low.leaving not enough individuals to cover the peak workload. Furthermore, there are many other H-2B jobs that are located in remote areas of the country (i.e. the forests of Maine, the coast of Alaska). The bottom line is this: H-2B employers want to hire as many Americans as possible.

    Myth 3: The H-2B program encourages illegal immigration.
    The H-2B program discourages illegal immigration. This job classification offers employers the one legal means to fill peak workload job vacancies. Without the H-2B program employers would be forced to violate labor laws by hiring illegal workers in order to remain in business. Also, in order to continue to use this work program, employers must ensure that their workers return home at the end of their stay. An unfavorable return rate often leads to the State Department taking action against the employer. The words "Non-Immigrant Worker" mean that the work does not stay in country! And if the worker is terminated, the law states the employer must pay for their immediate flight ticket home.

    Myth 4: People on welfare should be taking all of these jobs.
    While in some cases individuals on welfare could be at least temporarily supporting themselves, often welfare recipients are not qualified to do the available job or are not located in the area the job is being offered. For example, an oceanfront lifeguarding position requires that the applicant can swim. Not all welfare recipients can swim. Construction jobs often require the ability to do heavy lifting. Not all welfare recipients can handle the physical challenges associated with construction. Resort maid services often have duties that most individuals could perform, but the person would need to relocate to the area of the resort during the short period of time the job is available. Once again, H-2B employers want to hire as many Americans as possible.

    Myth 5: H-2B is legalized indentured servitude.
    What is interesting is that many times it is the same groups screaming that Americans are being denied jobs that use this same argument as well. Most Americans are confused as to why someone from Central America or Eastern Europe would want to spend so much money to come to the US and yet make so little while they are here. What Americans cannot comprehend is that in many countries it is not uncommon for the annual family income to be less than $5,000 per year. Thus an H-2B worker can often make in 4 months what it would have taken a year for their family to make at home. It is true that H-2B workers are only allowed to work for the employer that has sponsored them. Therefore, this worker is not allowed to freely move from job to job as an American would. This however is in-place to guarantee that the worker does not displace any American workers while they are present in the US.

    Myth 6: Recently an opponent of the H-2B program was quoted as saying:

    "It just shows how businesses have become increasingly adept at gaming the system to get cheap servile labor. They're willing to work for lower wages for less benefits, and can't quit without being thrown out of the country, so they're tied to their employer, and they're sort of indentured labor, and they're not likely to make too many other demands on the employers."
    Reality: In response to these accusations:

    • The wages paid to H-2B workers are set by the Department of Labor as the average prevailing wage for the duties being performed. These averages are calculated based on all workers (i.e. AMERICANS) performing these duties in the given geographical area.

    • The H-2B worker can quit and return to the previous circumstance so from whence they came.
    • In most cases, H-2B workers put more demands on their employers, as the employer becomes the support mechanism for their worker in a foreign land. Interviews, orientations and trainings often must take place abroad adding additional burden and expense on the employer.

    Myth 7: H-2B program continues the trend of "Out-Sourcing" jobs.
    If anything the H-2B program should be considered "In-Sourcing" jobs. Taxes are paid to the US government, FICA is paid into the Social Security System with the employee having little hope of ever collecting, and businesses keep flowing with the essential workers they need. It can be argued that unemployment will rise without the H-2B program, as many seasonal business owners will no longer be able to operate without it.

    Myth 8: Seasonal businesses should just pay more and then they would be able to find workers.
    While it is true the more you pay the more willing people are to work…this statement is not reasonable for business. Pay should be commensurate to the tasks being performed. A business owner can pay $20 per hour to have hamburgers made, but will anyone be able to afford to buy them?

    Myth 9: College students should fill these jobs.
    This is exactly what H-2B employers do, and they gladly hire hundreds of thousands of college students each year. Unfortunately for seasonal employers, college students are being more and more enticed by summer school and internships. In addition, while they are capable of doing the job, often times their vacation does not match when the vacancies are available, the duties are ones they do not want to perform, and/or the jobs are located in areas that they do not want to work. H-2B employers want to hire as many Americans as possible, and would hire any college student looking for seasonal work.
  2. TPnTX

    TPnTX LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,776

    SAVE OUR SMALL AND SEASONAL BUSINESSES ACT OF 2007 PROBLEM: Small businesses all over the nation count on the H-2B program to keep their businesses afloat. Many use the program year after year because it is the only way to legally hire temporary and seasonal workers when no American workers are available.

    In the past few years, the H-2B cap has been met as early as December making it impossible for late spring, summer, and early fall to find workers to fill their seasonal positions that their businesses rely on. The exemption that this bill would extend has helped small businesses get the legal workers that they need since the cap is met so early in the cycle.

    BACKGROUND: H-2B workers are temporary nonagricultural workers who enter the country for seasonal work. Employers must verify with the Department of Labor that they have looked for American workers for these positions. Often this program is a last resort for seasonal businesses to find much needed workers for their program.

    The program is a first-come, first-serve program and the employer can only apply for an H-2B worker 120 days out from when the position needs to be filled. Types of Industries: seasonal hotel and tourism businesses, landscaping, timber, cider pressers, shrimping, fishing, canning, etc.

    The need for seasonal workers impacts the entire nation including the tourist and resort industry of the East Coast, the Upper Midwest, and the Rockies; the fishing industry in Alaska; catfish and timber industries in Louisiana; crab processors in North Carolina; and the shrimp industry in Texas.

    These workers come to the US for a short-period of time (e.g., summer season) and return to their home country. Many of these workers return each year to the same business due to the relationship that they have developed with the employer and the community. This has meant that businesses can also plan ahead in the determining the type of work and load that they will be able to do during their busy season.

    SOLUTION: A new Save Small and Seasonal Businesses Act to permanently extend the exemption of returning H-2B workers from the cap of 66,000.

    An H-2B applicant will not count toward the cap if they had entered the U.S. in one of the last preceding three-years as an H-2B worker.

    This exemption allows are businesses to find the needed temporary worker to keep their businesses afloat and to keep American workers employed throughout the year.
  3. big acres

    big acres LawnSite Member
    Posts: 182

    I am no expert on H2-b. With that said, I can say that the best possible thing that could happen for my company, and others like me, would be for H2-B to be capped severly -or go away altogether. Year in, year out, we grow 20%. As an EOE, we welcome all nationalities that can communicate with everyone on the team efficiently.

    Somehow, we find enough guys to get the work done. We have several heads-of-household who make $20 an hour cutting grass. They are not getting rich, but making a fair living using common sense, and good work ethics. There are many AMERICANS who did not continue their education beyond high school who would kill for $20 an hour. Unfortunately, H2-B has severely capped the market which might support these wages industry wide.

    We keep many more guys on through the winter than most companies of our size, due to the fact that we train them in other areas. Many are welders and fabricators who do industry related manufacturing in the slow months.

    So many managers have complained about the qaulity of the big H2-B companies, yet the cannot break out of their box and go with a bid which seems way to high because they are conditioned to seeing the bids from these companies. Just my opinion... we are successful by finding those fewer and far between accounts which understand the cost of qaulity.

    Should they all go home, maybe a lot of work would be left undone until wages and the economy adjusted to were they should have always been.

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