The Georgia Forestry Association is currently working with the Forest Resources Association to urge congress to extend the H-2B guestworker appropriations for the 2017 fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, 2016. GFA members are encouraged to write a letter to U.S. House and Senate members, urging support of these crucial H2-B provisions applying to reforestation contractors.
The H-2B Visa program annually authorizes the temporary entry of seasonal foreign guestworkers serving specific employment niches which domestic workers are unwilling to fill. Among those jobs are the hand-planting of hardwood and softwood tree seedlings following timber harvest.
The Appropriations Omnibus passed in mid-December 2015 and included major improvements to both the Wage Rule and the Interim Final Program Rule for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016. These include:
- Allowing the use of private wage surveys in determining competitive wages for H-2B workers.
- Exempting returning H-2B workers (who have entered under the normal quotas at any time over the past three years) from the 66,000-worker annual cap;
- Defining “seasonal” as ten months (rather than nine);
- Preventing the Department of Labor from implementing enforcement provisions which had placed obstructions on auditing and worker recruitment.
“At the basis of forest industry’s commitment to sustainability is effective reforestation following harvest. For decades, the H-2B Guestworker program has been the crucial link in providing a dependable and legal workforce to ensure reforestation,” Neil Ward, FRA Vice President of Public Affairs, said. “We need to ensure that our public officials realize how important it is to fill that gap and that they realize the role H-2B workers play in making forestland ownership, and the businesses and jobs forest owners support, competitive.”
Take Action! Contact Congress to Renew Crucial H2-B Provisions!
Although last year’s appropriations bill contained important improvements to the H-2B program, those improvements will only last until September 30 of 2016 unless Congress acts to renew them for the federal government’s 2017 Fiscal Year. Until there is an opportunity to enact more permanent H-2B program reform, it is important to renew the gains made through the annual Appropriations process.
Please take a few minutes to review a brief message linked below, revise it (if you wish), and press “Print/Send” to send your message automatically to your House member and both Senators. ALSO: please forward this page to colleagues, employees, and business partners who would be likely to respond.
[button href=”https://gfagrow.org/advocacy/legislative-action-center/take-action/contact-congress-to-renew-crucial-h2-b-provisions/”]Send a Letter[/button]