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PLNA e-News: Protecting Values In the Nation

Pennsylvania H-2B Users Descend on Washington to Plead Their Case

Monday, November 13, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
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Situational Awareness

As labor markets tighten, landscape contractors are relying more and more on the federal H-2B program for workers. Yet, the number of visas available to companies has been cut in half by Congressional inaction. Over 100 company owners from across the country, including ten from Pennsylvania, traveled to Washington to speak to their Congressional representatives about the need for H-2B visas.

Why This Matters

  • Obviously, if you use the H-2B program, having access to workers that you rely on to get your projects done is important.
  • However, the cuts in H-2B visas has increased demand for the remaining landscape workforce, even for those companies that do not use the H-2B program.
  • If you are a grower, fewer landscape projects getting done will affect your sales as well.

The Details

The H-2B program has statutory cap of 66,000 visas. This cap was reached early this year, preventing many landscape contractors from getting the workers they needed for the 2017 season. As a result, many contractors were unable to take on contacts they were offered due to a lack of workers to complete the work.

In prior years, Congress had authorized a returning worker provision, which meant that any workers who had successfully completed a prior year of H-2B work, were not counted in the cap. That returning worker provision expired in September 2016.

Goal of those company owners gathered in Washington on November 2 was to encourage the permanent extension of the returning worker provision, as well as lobby for two other bills that would fix other problems with the H-2B program, the S.792, the Save our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act, and H.R.2004, the Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act.

Dan Eichenlaub, of Eichenlaub Inc. and chair of the PLNA Government Relations Committee, was a part of the Pennsylvania delegation.

“I believe we made an impact.  Some members we visited with previously who were not in support appear to be swaying toward our direction.  We will continue to work on them,” reported Eichenlaub.

What You Can Do

Go to the AmericanHort Action Center and ask your Congressman and Senators to raise the H-2B cap and approve S.792, the Save our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act, and H.R.2004, the Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act.  

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