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Vote to defund new H-2B rules is a disgrace

On June 14, 2012, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee voted to block funds for the Department of Labor to implement its new rules for the H-2B guestworker program.

Below is a statement by Saket Soni, Executive Director of the National Guestworker Alliance:

“Today’s vote is a disgrace. It’s a setback for guestworkers, struggling U.S. workers, and small businesses that play by the rules. Corporations and their lobbyists have been desperate to block the Department of Labor’s new H-2B rules, because their profit model is based on exploiting guestworkers and unfairly excluding U.S. workers.

“The Department of Labor’s new H-2B rules are badly needed to end that abuse. The latest proof came just last week: yet another case of forced labor in the H-2B program, this time by a Walmart supplier in Louisiana called C.J.’s Seafood. Workers like these need rules that prevent such abuse, and need whistleblower protections when abuse does happen.

“We’re particularly disappointed at Sen. Mary Landrieu’s vote to defund the new rules, since Louisiana has a high proportion of guestworkers and many documented cases of employer abuse. Sen. Landrieu should sit down with guestworkers in her own state to understand why the new H-2B rules are so vital—for guestworkers and U.S. workers alike.

“We believe that the DOL’s common-sense rules will prevail in the end. In the meantime, this vote will hurt small businesses who play by the rules, rather than abusing the H-2B program to turn a profit. It will also continue to delay economic security in desperate times for all workers.”

CONTACT: Stephen Boykewich, stephen@guestworkeralliance.org, 718-791-9162

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