Roller coaster week in H-2B legislation Email
Written by Colorado Green NOW   
Tuesday, July 13, 2021 05:00 AM

Colorado Green NOW

The H-2B visa program has seen a flurry of legislative activity in DC this week. Advocates for H-2B were pleased to find the returning worker exception included in the upcoming fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill, though it was quickly removed. The landscape industry and other industries reliant on H-2B turned their focus back to a language change on discretionary visas from “may” to “shall.”

But additional language in the bill remains a concern among H-2B supporters. The H-2B Workforce Coalition issued this statement, along with a call-to-action for supporters of the program:

The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to consider the FY 22 Department of Labor Appropriations bill tomorrow morning.  The bill contains the language (pages 46-50) supported by organized labor that would devastate the H-2B program and make it impossible for many employers to use the program. This language would effectively kill the H-2B program.  The draft bill would:

  • Prohibit industries from using the H-2B program if they experienced unemployment in ANY of the previous 12 months over 10% (a majority of H-2B industries would be ineligible especially considering unemployment rates and COVID-19 over the past 12 months);
  • Prohibit construction industries from using the program even in seasonal locations or occupations;
  • Increase the baseline for wages to at least 150% of the federal or state minimum wage, whichever is higher;
  • Require wage compliance with a collective bargaining agreement for your industry in your area, even if you are not a party to the agreement;
  • Ban participation in the program for labor/workforce-related infractions outside of the scope of the H-2B program.

A letter was submitted by the H-2B Workforce Coalition, opposing this language and asking that it be removed. See the letter.

Colorado H-2B supporters are asked to do the following today to express their support:

  • Call your Representative today and ask him or her to urge the House Appropriations Committee leadership and their Party Leadership to remove Sections 116, 117 and 118 of Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Appropriations Bill before the legislation is considered by the Appropriations Committee on Thursday. You can reach your Representative through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. Once connected to the office, please ask to speak to the staff person who handles Department of Labor appropriations.
  • Send an email to your Representative using the link below that was set up by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. SEND AN EMAIL TO YOUR REPRESENTATIVE NOW! You can also find your Colorado Representative, Senators, and their H-2B staff contacts in this document.

Read more in this issue of Colorado Green NOW:
Outdoor improvements, lawn & garden purchases grew in 2020
Snowpack: not the water supply metric it used to be
Video: Establishment permits in Colorado Springs
Denver seeks experts for code amendment committees