PLNA Lobbies Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation on H-2B Fixes
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
WASHINGTON, D.C. – PLNA went to Washington this May to lobby Pennsylvania Congressmen and Senators on the need to renew H-2B fixes that will expire this September 30. The PLNA team consisted of PLNA Board Chair Bill H. Wells, PLNA Government Relations Committee Chair Dan Eichenlaub, PLNA Member Alan Jones of Manor View Farms and PLNA Government Relations Consultant Gregg Robertson.
The PLNA team was accompanied by AmericanHort staff and landscape contractors from Maryland and Delaware.
The team met with Senator Toomey’s staff, Congressman Dent’s staff, Congressman Perry’s staff as well as several Congressmen and Senators from Maryland and Delaware. The legislators held out some hope that the H-2B fixes could be renewed, but underscored the difficulty of doing so in an election year.
The provisions that will expire this fall include many of the H2B reforms that the green industry had been seeking for the past several years, plus some more urgent reforms needed in light of the recently issued H-2B regulations. The provisions include:
- Exempts H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap;
- Addresses H-2B wages and allow the use of private wage surveys, which were not allowed under the 2015 final H-2B wage rule;
- Clearly defines seasonal as 10 months, as opposed to the 9 months in the new interim final H-2B comprehensive rule;
- Prevents DOL from implementing the provisions of the interim final rule (IFR) related to corresponding employment and the three-quarters guarantee; and
- Prevents DOL from implementing the new burdensome DOL enforcement scheme in the IFR related to audits and Certifying Officer (CO) assisted recruitment.
But even with the returning worked exemption, the H-2B cap was hit in March, leaving many landscape contractors unable to get the workers they desperately needed to start the spring season.
Running out the Clock?
The short time frame in which these reforms have life has led to foot-dragging on the part of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in implementing the new provisions. They are trying to run out the clock until September 30. Processing delays, which in a normal year are widespread, this year have been the worst anyone has experienced.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
The goal of these visits was to crank up the pressure on Congress to extend permanently the reforms they passed last December and turn up the heat on the DOL and DHS to implement them in good faith.
This will not happen easily. We need your help! Please go to the AmericanHort website and let your voice be heard!