The Forest Resources Association (FRA) recently expressed its frustration over the Department of Labor’s (DOL) arbitrary decision to stop issuing guest worker visas, leading an industry wide effort to persuade the agency to change its course.
The forest products industry relies heavily on seasonal foreign guestworkers to hand plant tree seedlings following timber harvest. Because the work is seasonal, and because tree-planting crews are itinerant, without a connection to a community, domestic workers are not interested in this kind of work. The H-2B guestworker program helps U.S. contractors address this need by providing access to a pool of personnel, generally from Mexico and Central America, that enter the country on a temporary basis and help us practice sustainable forestry.
“Guestworkers from Central America and Mexico are absolutely critical to the practice of sustainable forestry in this country,” said Deb Hawkinson, President of the Forest Resources Association. “We are absolutely at a loss to understand why DOL would take such an economy-disrupting step,” Hawkinson commented.
FRA has been leading advocacy efforts on behalf of the forestry sector to persuade DOL to change course, taking its concerns to Capitol Hill. There numerous Members of Congress from both parties and in both chambers have already communicated their opposition to DOL’s guestworker visa stoppage. Group letters are now circulating in both chambers urging the Department to change course and to support the Department of Homeland Security, which actually has the authority to regulate the H-2B program.
About Forest Resources Association Inc.
FRA is a nonprofit trade association concerned with the safe, efficient, and sustainable harvest of forest products and their transport from woods to mill. FRA represents wood consumers, landowners, independent logging contractors, and wood dealers, as well as businesses providing products and services to the forest resource-based industries. Visit http://www.forestresources.org/ for more information.