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The H-2B Workforce Coalition Says Comprehensive Immigration
Reform Must Include Relief for Seasonal Employers


Washington, D.C., December 16, 2009 – The H-2B Workforce Coalition believes that it is important for Congress to address comprehensive immigration reform, including much needed relief for many seasonal industries that use the H-2B program to supplement their year-round domestic work force during peak seasons when too few American workers are available.  

“While we appreciate Rep. Gutierrez and other supporters of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform for America’s Security and Prosperity (CIR-ASAP) legislation for highlighting the importance of immigration reform, we are concerned about the proposed legislation’s characterization of the H-2B program and its failure to provide meaningful cap relief for small and seasonal employers,” said a coalition spokesperson.
 
The H-2B program is essential to the economic vitality of a diverse group of small businesses including landscape contractors, hotels, restaurants, seafood and food processing companies, carnivals, ski resorts, pool companies and stone quarries.  Before a company can hire a worker under the H-2B program, it must undertake an intensive recruitment process to find American workers under the supervision of the Department of Labor (DOL), which must certify that hiring H-2B workers does not negatively impact American jobs.  The request must then be approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  After DHS approves the request for workers, each individual worker must be interviewed by the American consulate in their home country before a visa is issued to insure that he or she is not a security risk and will return home after the completion of the seasonal work.  The wage rates paid to these workers are well above minimum wage and are set by the U.S. Department of Labor.  Because the H-2B workers are treated and paid well, many workers return to the same employer year after year.  Changes that make the program unworkable will in the end harm law-abiding foreign workers who enter the United States, work and depart safely and legally, as well as their families.

Unfortunately, the H-2B program contains a cap of 66,000, which especially in a strong economy, is far below the market demand for legal seasonal labor.  For the past few years, many seasonal employers were unable to find the American workers they needed and suffered substantial economic losses due to the expiration of a provision of law that exempted returning workers from the cap. The H-2B program is, in short, part of the solution to the larger immigration challenges our country faces.  
 
Seasonal businesses need permanent access to a reliable and predictable labor source. Congressional action is essential not only for the vitality of small seasonal businesses and their American workforce, but also for growers, vehicle and equipment manufacturers, and other suppliers whose prosperity is closely linked to the economic health of seasonal industries.  
 
The H-2B Workforce Coalition is a consortium of various industry associations throughout the United States that have joined together to protect American workers by ensuring American small and seasonal employers have access to legal short-term temporary workers during peak business periods. For more information about the Coalition, please visit www.h2bworkforcecoalition.com.
 
Serving the hospitality industry for a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.  For more about AH&LA and our 100th anniversary, visit www.ahla.com.
 

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Contact:
 
Shawn McBurney
American Hotel & Lodging Association
(202) 289-3123

Laurie Flanagan
D.C. Legislative and Regulatory Services, Inc. 
(202) 872-8440
 

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Also See: Utah Ski Resorts Will Make it Through this Winter But Are Worried About Next Season, Not Because of Global Warming, but Rather Immigration Reform / February 2008
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