La. seafood plants may move if wage increases set


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
September 25, 2012

With tighter regulations being proposed for the H-2B guest worker program, Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is fighting a battle with Washington, D.C.

The new rules, which could take effect as early as October, cover a wide range of requirements, including a wage increase of least 30 percent for H-2B migrant workers.

“I don’t think [the Department of Labor] understands the greater gravity of the negative effects on the economy and on these businesses,” Strain said. “The new rules make the program unreasonable.”

Opponents say those negative effects could close businesses.

The H-2B program waives immigration requirements and sets regulations for the wages and working requirements of foreign workers in certain industries. Those employers include 13 Acadiana seafood processors that employ 800 H-2B workers on a seasonal basis.

Among the proposed H-2B rule changes is a requirement for companies to post job openings for a longer period to demonstrate Americans don’t want the jobs.

The biggest changes are designed to give greater protection to guest workers in terms of work hours, working conditions and compensation.

The changes also would guarantee 75 percent of the H-2B workers’ wages if a hurricane or other disaster shuts their employers down for the season.

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