H-2B Advocacy Effort Faces Critical Tests  - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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H-2B Advocacy Effort Faces Critical Tests 

The first two weeks of June have brought considerable activity on H-2B, and in particular the fate of the returning worker exemption for 2017. Last week, NALP and our H-2B Workforce Coalition allies successfully advocated for language in the Senate version of the 2017 Department of Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bills. The relief includes the ability to use private salary surveys, clearly defines seasonal as 10 months, and blocks the Department of Labor from implementing the prevailing wage ¾ guarantee. The House is also expected to include these important provisions in their bill when the Appropriations Committee considers the measure later this month.

However, we have not yet achieved our primary goal of extending the “returning worker exemption” (RWE) for 2017. Because the Department of Homeland Security has jurisdiction over immigration related issues, oversight of RWE occurs in the Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittees on Homeland Security. Neither of these bodies included RWE in their initial mark-up of their 2017 draft budget proposals. But NALP and our allies are aggressively advocating the full House Appropriations Committee to pass an amendment that would extend RWE to 2017 with an effective date of October 1, so that it goes into effect as soon as the new fiscal year begins. The Committee is expected to vote on the amendment on Tuesday June 14.

In addition, Senator Jeff Sessions who chairs the Senate Judiciary Immigration and the National Interests Subcommittee recently held a hearing to examine the impact of H-2B on wages and jobs for American workers. Senator Sessions, who is one of the most vocal opponents of RWE used the hearing as a platform to feature pro-union and immigration reform advocates. However, their testimony and Session’s intended message was largely negated through the thorough questioning provided by Senator Thom Tillis who is one of our most vocal H-2B champions on Capitol Hill. NALP will continue to lead the fight on this vitally important member issue.