Currently, employers can only apply for H-2B seasonal workers if they cannot hire Americans for the jobs, and they must promise to pay H-2B workers American-level wages when they ask the Department of Labor for H-2B visas. The House found a way to water it down.
The House has a 2018 1300-page draft House appropriations bill that allows employers to cut wages for foreign H-2B seasonal workers and for American workers by default.
The politicians know Americans don’t want Republicans to do this. They hope it won’t be noticed.
Americans can no longer make a decent wage in the top H-2B occupations like landscaping and hospitality. The House has a bill to make that worse.
In the new bill, employers can offer minimal wages for these workers by letting them use the results of skewed, known to be biased, “private wage surveys” instead of the prevailing wage rates for local Americans.
Employers can then use this in bidding for American seasonal workers. Wages for each company’s full-time American staff are informally tied to the wages paid to the seasonal workers.
According to the bill text:
In the determination of prevailing wage for the purposes of the H–2B program, the Secretary shall accept private wage surveys even in instances where Occupational Employment Statistics survey data are available unless the Secretary [of Labor] determines that the methodology and data in the provided survey are not statistically supported.
It will cut the “prevailing wage” in due time.
The legislation also breaks a bureaucratic link, dubbed, “corresponding employment,” which requires employers to pay their American employees the same wages as H-2B workers.
The bill also kills off the “three quarters” rule which forces employers to pay their H-2B workers as if they worked 75 percent of the time.
The donor corporations win again.
Trump’s trying but Ryan and the Congress are working against him. Trump’s Department of Justice has fined a company for hiring H-2B instead of Americans, and Labor Department officials are reportedly asking companies to justify their claims that they need to import H-2B workers.
Paul Ryan oversees the appropriations legislation. He also pushed Chief of Staff Kelly to up the number of visas by 15,000 this year. He must go.
In May, Kelly told a House appropriations committee:
One of the things, and I have my working class root background that keeps reminding me that some of these individuals —not necessarily in Alaska — but many, many of these individuals are victimized when they come up here, in terms of what they’re paid and all the rest of it, so we’re working with Labor, Department of Labor, to come up with an answer to this, but we really do need a long-term solution, so we’ll work with the Senate and with Congress, within the industry, this year, and again, I’ll have my staff when they return from Labor and we get some protocols in place, we’ll likely increase the numbers for this year, perhaps not by the entire number that I’m authorized, but we really do need, I’m really looking forward to working with you Senator, and the whole Congress, to get a longer-term solution to this.
Hopefully he’s not counting on a solution from Paul Ryan and Rodney Frelinghuysen.