The fishing and seafood processing industries got great news yesterday when a federal district court judge in Florida handed down a decision to delay implementation of new H-2B guest worker program rules.
The new Labor Department rules threatened to shut down processing facilities from Alaska to the Chesapeake Bay by complicating the process that allows seafood processors to bring in foreign workers for jobs that are no longer appealing to American workers.
“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,” said Jack Brooks, president of the Coalition to Save America’s Seafood Industry, in a press release.
The coalition is committed to continuing to work with Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) to improve labor regulations as well as communication between the federal government and the industry that relies on a staggered influx of foreign workers based on varying needs as fishing seasons progress.
While I think it’s unfortunate that millions of American college students would rather pile on student loan debt than work in seafood plants for the summer, we must recognize that the system has changed. Students are often expected to further their career credentials by working for nothing (or next to it) in summer internships.
As a nation, we have veered away from understanding what a day’s work really means. I hope to teach my own child the value of true labor. In the meantime, I’m happy to know the processing and picking houses will be humming along as usual.