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ANLA accuses Department of Labor of launching an administrative assault on H-2B

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New rules said to rewrite temporary and seasonal worker programs.

The American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) says the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has launched a series of administrative assaults against the H-2 temporary and seasonal worker programs — H-2A for agriculture, H-2B for non-agricultural industries. The programs act as safety nets available to employers when they cannot fill seasonal manual labor jobs.

In the case of H-2B, a new rule mandating a new wage methodology was set to take effect last October 1. ANLA says the rule would have forced H-2B wage increases commonly reaching 40% to 70% over the prevailing wages the program already mandates. The DOL delayed it for 60 days, then Congress delayed it until October 1, 2012. Litigation is pending.

DOL is also publishing another final rule that ANLA says “basically rewrites the H-2B program.” The rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on February 21, with an effective date of April 23, 2012. It makes changes to most other aspects of the program, including how an employer proves they have a seasonal need, how they must advertise, recruit, reimburse expenses, and more.

A DOL drafted comparison chart between the current 2009 regulations and the 2012 final rule can be foundhere.

For more on the new rule, click here to read ANLA’s preliminary summary. For more background on the H2-B battles, read Landscape Management’s January cover story: H2-B or Not H2-B.

In related news, OFA is partnering with the Society of American Florists (SAF) to encourage more people to attend Congressional Action Days March 19-20.

The 2012 congressional session is just getting started and here’s a preview of issues the organizations think you should be watching.

  • Health Reform. The slow, steady march toward Jan. 1, 2014, continues. This year will be pivotal to the actual implementation and scope of the Affordable Care Act. The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments about the constitutionality of the health reform law, scheduling an unprecedented amount of time to receive arguments. A ruling should come early-to-mid summer, just when the general election will be heating up. In the meantime, SAF continues to work behind the scenes with the Employers for Flexibility in Health Care coalition to ensure favorable regulatory consideration of our industry’s needs and concerns.
  • Immigration Reform. Even confirmed optimists would agree that chances of immigration reform passing the current Congress, in an election year, are slim to nil but the issue is by no means dead. Mandatory E-Verify is still pending, and will very likely become a point of controversy again this year. And the increased enforcement taking place at businesses across the nation makes it imperative that OFA, and the Agriculture Coalition for Immigration Reform (OFA is a member), continue to work with our Congressional champions to find an immigration fix for agriculture.
  • Tax Reform. If Congress fails to act on tax reform by the end of the year, the tax cuts ushered in during the Bush administration in 2001, 2003, and 2006 will all go away. That list includes estate tax and Alternative Minimum Tax relief. At stake is $5 trillion in potential revenue for the federal government.
  • 2012 Farm Bill. The current farm bill, passed in 2008, is up for renewal in 2012. It’s anyone’s guess whether Congress will be able to agree on efforts to renew it.
  • NLRB and Labor. Expect to hear quite a bit about continued legal challenges to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). During the holidays, President Obama made recess appointments to the NLRB. Senate Republicans claim they remained in pro forma session throughout recess, which would legally negate any appointments made by the President and invalidate further actions by the Board. The Coalition for a Democratic Workplace has filed a suit to fight the appointments.
LM Staff

LM Staff

Landscape Management's staff brings together collective experience in journalism, research, writing, and editing. Our team stays tapped into the pulse of the industry, covering a wide range topics with a commitment to delivering compelling stories and high-quality content.

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