November 15, 2010

Wyden Letter to President Calls For Changes to H-2B Visa Hiring Regulations

Proposed Executive Order Would Require Employers to Make A Real Effort to Hire U.S. Workers Before Turning to Foreign Labor

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter to President Obama today urging him to issue an executive order to ensure that American workers get the first shot at government funded jobs.  Wyden is raising this issue with the President after it was revealed that four forestry companies used federal stimulus dollars to hire foreign workers without making a good faith effort to even alert Oregonians to the job openings.

“By not listing their job openings with the Oregon State Workforce Agency (SWA) and only advertising for workers in small newspapers outside of the state of Oregon, these companies willfully avoided hiring Oregon workers,” Wyden said in the letter to President Obama. “Given that one of ARRA’s primary goals was to create jobs for American workers, I imagine you share my anger in learning these facts.”

Wyden originally raised his concerns about the use of stimulus dollars to hire foreign workers in letters to both the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Forest Service.  Both responded to say that the forestry companies – which received nearly $13 million in federal stimulus contracts – were allowed to hire foreign workers because they couldn’t find Oregonians to take the jobs.  However, a FOIA request made by Bulletin reporter, Keith Chu revealed that the forestry companies met federal requirements by advertising the available positions in small newspapers outside the state of Oregon.

Wyden called on President Obama to issue an executive order requiring employers to make a more exhaustive effort to notify U.S. workers within the geographical area of job openings before resorting to H-2B visas.  Current law requires only perfunctory advertisement of job openings.  The proposed executive order would require employers to run ads for at least one week in the largest-circulation newspaper in the state, the largest-circulation newspaper in the region where the work will take place, and to file the job openings with the State Workforce Agencies of all states in which work will be performed.

To read the current letter click here. To read Wyden’s previous letters please click here and here. To read the Department of Labor response click here. To read the Forest Service response click here.