U.S. processors applaud H-2B visa delay
By SeafoodSource staff
30 April, 2012
U.S. seafood processors are applauding Thursday’s decision by a federal district court judge in Florida to delay implementation of new Labor Department (DOL) rules for the H-2B guest worker program.
Members of the Coalition to Save America’s Seafood Industry say the rules endanger the future of America’s seafood processors and many other industries.
“I think the court sees evidence that these regulations ignore economic realities,” said coalition president Jack Brooks. “We are very pleased that the court stepped in. Despite receiving mounds of evidence that the rules are unworkable and endanger many industries’ very survival, DOL has not deviated from the narrow path it started down more than a year ago.
“Whatever the final outcome of this court case, we will continue fighting for a more reasonable and sustainable solution,” Brooks vowed, adding that the coalition is working with key members of Congress — including Sens. Mark Warner of Virginia and Barbara Mikulski of Maryland — to press DOL for substantive changes.
For years, the H-2B program has allowed seafood processors to bring in foreign workers for tasks that American workers have shown little interest in doing despite extensive and expensive efforts to recruit domestically.
“The new rules force us to spend more time and money on recruitment initiatives that have proven almost worthless. They greatly complicate efforts to bring in employees who have demonstrated their willingness to do what American workers simply won’t do,” Brooks said.
“Seafood processors, in particular, continue to struggle with vague and confusing signals from DOL about exactly how the H-2B program is to be regulated as we move ahead. For instance, some of us have heard that we no longer will be able to bring H-2B workers into the U.S. on a staggered basis, as we have over many years to match our staffing to the predictably gradual increase in workload. Others have received contrary information or nothing at all. You can’t run a business under such vague and shifting regulation any more than you can play baseball without a rulebook.”
30 April, 2012