This is a call to action. I am asking all of you to really take the time to read this email and truly take action as detailed in this email, and continue to take action on a regular basis, if the survival of the H-2B program is important to you and your business.
This is a period of confusion and chaos in Washington, DC in regards to all aspects of immigration. I do not want to be hysterical or rabble rousing, but I do want to sound an alarm that at the very least, many H-2B employers will be capped out of the program this year if the Returning Worker Exemption (or similar relief) is not enacted, and at the very worst, the program could be even cut back, suspended or subject to delays that make it useless.
There are many troubling signs that impending actions may negatively affect the H-2B program:
·Jeff Sessions, future Attorney General, at the hearing I attended in Washington, DC stated “H-2B employers are comparable to modern day slave owners” and has been a key opponent to the fight for the Returning Worker Exemption.
·Memos have been circulating in the White House about “reforming” and “investigating” various visa programs, “investigating the damage to US workers of foreign visa employment”.
·Breitbart and other far left and far right “news” outlets have been pounding the drumbeat that all foreign workers (legal and illegal) “flood into America, taking jobs from American Workers, depress wages and lower working conditions.”
·The Department of Labor processing of H-2B applications has slowed to a crawl, with Notices of Acceptance (that are supposed to be issued within 7 days of application) not being issued even after 30 days of processing.
There are good signs, with business oriented individuals nominated to Key Cabinet Positions, but they have not been confirmed yet and those who are fundamentally against foreign worker positions seem to have the President’s ear.
The chaos and confusion, executive orders and media attention may force Congress to take action sooner, rather than later.
What action Congress takes depends on you. I have been preaching the same sermon for years. You must form a personal relationship with your member of Congress. This does not mean making a phone call, sending a fax or email, and checking off a box that you have done your job.
This means first finding out who your Member of Congress is. Do you know, if so that is a great first step. If not, then you need to go to this website, use your home address (where you live and vote) and find out who your member of Congress is.
Key in your information and find out who your Member of Congress is. There is typically a link to their website and you can find out where the District Offices are.
You should go in person to the local district office, and ask to speak directly with the Member of Congress. If they ask what the issue is, you can briefly tell them that the issue is your ability to keep your business open and to protect American Jobs.
If they say the Member of Congress is not in, ask to speak to the District Director so that you can schedule an appointment to meet directly with your Member of Congress. Be persistent. The Member of Congress typically will come home Fridayafternoon, be in the district Saturday and Sunday, then fly back to Washington on Monday. Leave your business cards. Pick up as many business cards that you can to collect as many direct email addresses and phone numbers that you can for the staffer in the office.
Your message and talking points are very simple.
If you are a couple or have children who are teenagers or adults, bring them to the meeting to reinforce that you are a family business.
You tell them your name and where you live to establish you are a voter in the Representatives’ District.
You tell them that your family owns and operates a business, that has been in operation for (fill in the blank) number of years, you provide (carnival, rides, games, fill in the blank) to various local fairs, festivals, civic groups, churches that hold recurrent, annual, seasonal fundraising events in their communities. These special community events are the major fundraiser for these organizations each year, and without these fundraisers the organizations would not be able to (provide scholarships, fund the Church School, fill in the blank) and the local community would suffer. If you know if any events in the Representative’s District, make sure you mention them. If you have a fair or a powerful sponsor in the district, take them along to the meeting with the Representative.
You would state that you only work 9 months (fill in the blank) each year, you travel from location to location, your work schedule is typically when others are off work and can attend the festival, evenings, weekends and holidays. State that it is logical and reasonable that US Workers prefer year-round employment, fixed hours, not traveling from event to event. Your labor pool is very limited as to who is available to travel, you hire each and every US Worker that you can, would love to hire ALL US Workers and not spend the time, money and effort on hiring foreign workers, but you CANNOT. And if you try to operate without the foreign workers to augment your US Workers, you cannot operate safely and efficiently, you cannot provide the services you are contracted for, and if you are not able to obtain temporary, seasonal, foreign workers you may have to close your family business.
Whatever your personal beliefs are you do NOT say that US Workers are lazy or would prefer to sit at home watching TV collecting benefits, are on drugs, etc. Do not harp on drugs, background checks, long hours, bunkhouses.
You listen carefully to the Member of Congress and/or staff member(s) you speak with. You let them know that you are only there to ask them to support a working H-2B program moving forward. Do not specifically mention the Returning Worker Exemption, right now you are forming a bond, a relationship with your member of congress. This relationship is what we need when there is a critical issue to be addressed, but must be formed NOW and maintained over a sustained period of time.
Financial Support for your Representative.
While meeting with your member of congress in their official office DO NOT MENTION FUND RAISING OR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THEIR POLITICAL CAMPAIGN.
However, in addition to going through the front door to meet your Congressman, you should also google your member of congress’s name and see if you can find the separate and distinct campaign committee set up to raise funds for the political campaign. The key is that it will not be an official government website, will not end in “.gov”. Carefully review the website, see if there are any upcoming town hall meetings or fundraising events. Contact the campaign committee, tell them you are a constituent of the member of Congress, would like to contribute $500 (fill in the blank, but that amount should get their attention and still allow for future contributions) to the campaign and ask if there is an event that you can attend.
So, in addition to meeting the Member of Congress in the office, you will follow up within a short period of time with a second face to face meeting, where you can again discuss the H-2B program, how much the program means to your business.
You only one U.S. House Representative. Your adult children, show manager, family members, suppliers, key sponsors or fair committees may have the same member of congress or different members of Congress, and they may be able to set up appointments as well and open the door for you if you have the time to pursue. But the key will be your own Representative.
You also have two U. S. Senators. To find out who your Senators are you can go to this website http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ find out who they are and where their district offices are located. As each senator covers the entire state, there is not much of a chance you will meet the Senator, but you do need to meet with his/her staff. Repeat the process detailed above for your Representatives, for each of your senators.
Call to action.
What you need to do is put a face, a heart and a soul into the H-2B program for your Representative and Senators. I cannot do this for you. A paid lobbyist or trade organization cannot do it for you. You and your family are the only ones who can do this, can form this relationship. I will do everything I can to assist you, prepare you, and if it is at all possible, accompany you to the meetings. The OABA and Gregg Hartley will also be there for you.
I cannot stress how important this is. You need to be able to call your member of Congress or his or her Chief of Staff). To be able to do that is going to take hard work on your part.
We must be proactive or we will get steamrolled by the far right and the far left and that would be a disaster for all of us. Your action (or inaction) will make a difference.