Unions oppose H-2B visas

Please read union-written H-2B op-ed!

A new op-ed in the Hill explains why the H-2B is travesty for American working men and women. Dennis Martire, the vice president and regional manager of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Laborers’ International Union, wrote:

The H-2B visa program was intended to provide employers with access to temporary non-U.S. workers only if an employer could prove they were unsuccessful at genuinely attempting to hire American workers, and if their business would be irreparably harmed without the help of temporary visa holders.

What started small has become commonplace. Since the program’s inception in 1990, the number of H-2B visas has ballooned eight-fold, with applications peaking at almost 100,000 in some years. The administration’s halt on issuing new visas comes only after it raised the number of visas by an additional 35,000 this year.

The landscaping industry — one of the largest H-2B visa users — don’t only exploit non-U.S. workers, they undercut pay and living standards for all workers. According to Department of Labor data, employers saved as much as $3.80 per hour in wages by hiring visa-holders. In fact, the pay rate for visa-holders is about the same as for undocumented workers.

The study of Labor Department data in one state showed that landscaping jobs were offered at a mere $10.34 an hour, forcing employers to turn to visa holders when they could not fill the positions with U.S. workers. The reason they could not fill the jobs wasn’t because American workers weren’t available; rather, employers were offering more than $3 an hour less than the prevailing landscaping hourly wage. By using H2-B visa-holders, employers undercut U.S. worker pay by more than 25 percent.

It’s past time for you and your fellow Republican Members of Congress to prove your care about working Americans by passing legislation to reform the H-2B program. Visa programs should benefit our nation as a whole, not just business owners who don’t want to pay jobless Americans a living wage.

Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA

Greg Raven

Author: Greg Raven

I am deeply concerned about quality of life issues.