DOL’s new rule rewriting H-2B meets disapproval

A group of plaintiffs including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, lawn, landscape, and forestry companies and associations have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, seeking to block a sweeping new Labor Department rule drastically rewriting the H-2B temporary and seasonal non-agricultural visa program. H-2B is widely used by the landscape industry and other interests to fill seasonal labor needs when too few American workers apply for such jobs. The plaintiffs in Bayou Lawn & Landscape Services et al. v. Solis sought a temporary restraining order to block the rule from taking effect as scheduled on April 23.
The American Nursery and Landscape Association and many state partners have assisted with the effort to challenge the rule; the Ohio Nursery & Landscape Association recently contributed $5,000 to the ANLA Beacon Fund to assist with the litigation.
According to ONLA, "If the new program rule takes effect, it will make substantial changes to the H-2B program. It requires employers to hire any qualified U.S. worker up to 21 days before the H-2B worker is scheduled to begin, even though the employer may have already offered the job to the H-2B worker, assisted with the visa process and paid transportation, housing and other associated fees.
“The rule also includes labor unions in the hiring process and requires employers to pay transportation and subsistence costs for potential U.S. workers who work at least 50 percent of the season.
“In addition, the rule includes provisions requiring employers to pay workers with 'corresponding employment' duties similar wages."
Late last year, Congress prohibited the Department of Labor from implementing the wage rule through the end of the 2012 fiscal year. Also, on Feb. 28, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., and several other lawmakers introduced a resolution (H.J.RES.104) expressing disap-proval with the DOL’s new rule.  Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and other Senators introduced the same measure (S.J. RES. 38) in the Senate on March 21. If passed, the measure would prevent the DOL from implementing the program rule.
ANLA is urging members to support those two Congressional resolutions of disapproval.
Craig Regelbrugge, ANLA vice president for government relations, said, “The Labor Department and union allies are destroying the only labor safety net available to many green industry firms."
ONLA encourages green industry businesses and trade associations to contribute to the ANLA’s Beacon Fund to help fund the legal challenge to the H-2B program and wage rules. For more information on how to contribute, contact the ONLA office at (800) 825-5062.