CORAL GABLES, Fla. -"The new U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) rule on the H-2B program is more than 500 pages long and the National Hispanic Landscape Association (NHLA) is in the process of evaluating all the nuances,” says Executive Director Ralph Egues.
“In some areas the Department has clarified ambiguities and moderated earlier positions. However, the rule gives State Workforce Boards wide discretion over aspects of the H2-B program such that employers are left to deal with significant uncertainty. That uncertainty is a great challenge for small businesses trying to maintain or grow their customer base,” says Egues.
He adds that a careful read of the rule suggests that the DOL doesn’t understand that importing sufficient numbers of productive immigrant laborers to perform jobs that too few in the domestic workforce will perform is critical to the ability of small companies to grow and add the jobs that Americans do want to perform.
“Rather than leveraging immigrant labor to create conditions requiring the creation of higher-skill higher-wage jobs, they want to further restrict the availability of productive and motivated labor believing that doing so will force employers to fill their needs with people unwilling or unable to perform the needed work,” says Egues.
“One year, due to a paperwork error, one of our members was denied access to the program and the 48 H-2B workers he was trying to bring into the country. He wound up hiring 1,300 domestic laborers in an attempt to keep the 48 positions filled over a 10-month period,” says Egue.
“In addition to the huge recruitment and training expense, he lost customers that year because the quality of his services suffered. Rather than growing his company and adding more jobs, he had to focus his resources on trying to retain disappointed customers. Under these economic conditions, our government should not be making it harder for small businesses to grow and add jobs."