On Monday, Feb. 4, 2013, PLANET participated in an H-2B briefing on Capitol Hill, hosted by the H-2B Workforce Coalition, during which U.S. Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-LA), Dr. Mike Strain, Louisiana commissioner of agriculture and forestry, and Mr. Todd Staples, Texas commissioner of agriculture, briefed congressional staffers about the importance of the H-2B program.
Steve Steele, director of operations at Keesen Landscape Management, in Englewood, Colo., spoke to the audience about how the H-2B program is a basic necessity for his company and not a luxury. He said that without these reliable, trained workers he would have to cut back on the number of contracts his company handles.
Rep. Alexander told the group that he planned to introduce a bill this year, similar to last year's bill, HR3162, which asked congress to block the Department of Labor rules that have severely hindered the usefulness of the H-2B program. He asked the audience to encourage members of Congress to co-sponsor the bill. PLANET is currently engaged in litigation to block the Department of Labor rules.
Tom Delaney, director of government affairs for PLANET, says, "Reintroduction of an H-2B bill by Rep. Alexander similar to last year's bill, HR3162, which asked congress to block the Department of Labor rules that have severely hindered the usefulness of the H-2B program, is important to the entire green industry.
"Most H-2B workers have been returning year after year and are very good in what they do. There is a shortage of these kinds of workers as all our industry companies that have to be continuously recruiting know. Now that comprehensive immigration reform is in forefront these types of visa dependent jobs and existing improperly documented workers jobs will be in the discussions. We need all our existing workers and H-2B returning workers and if there is any change in the status quo it will affect the entire industry. We are all inter-dependent and whatever affects one sector will affect all. As the economy improves, the situation will become worse for finding and keeping good employees."