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Requirement to Show Irreparable Harm in H-2B Program is an Important Step in Protecting Construction Workers

Washington, D.C. (July 19, 2017) – Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – made the following statement on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to allow an additional 15,000 H-2B visas:

While LIUNA has long expressed concern about the use of H-2B visas in the construction and landscaping industries, we appreciate the restraint shown by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor with this relatively modest increase in the number of visas allowed this year. LIUNA supports the new requirement that employers seeking H-2B visas must demonstrate that their business will suffer “irreparable harm” under penalty of perjury, as well as the new tip line to report H-2B abuses and employer violations.

 

Workers in the construction and landscape industries are disproportionately harmed by the H-2B program. While there are industries with a legitimate need for additional workers, the construction industry is not one of them. Instead of hiring available U.S. workers seeking jobs, too many construction companies instead rely on these unnecessary visas in order to pay the lowest wage possible. These employers include large companies, not the small or seasonal businesses intended to be covered by the H-2B program. Further, there is ample evidence of fraud and abuse by unscrupulous employers who often use loopholes in the H-2B program to duck oversight and exploit foreign workers.

 

LIUNA looks forward to working with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor to put construction workers to work on good-paying, safe jobs, as well as on sufficient oversight of the H-2B program to prevent abuses of foreign workers, ensuring access to family-supporting prevailing wage jobs, and enforcement of basic labor protections.

 

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The half-million members of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – are on the forefront of the construction industry, a powerhouse of workers who are proud to build America.