Over 100 business owners, state association executives and labor contractors flew into Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress in support of H2B reform. The members of the H2B Workforce Coalition, co-chaired by the American Nursery and Landscape Association (ANLA) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA), were seeking reform of the H2B program, which provides work visas to temporary seasonal workers. As a result of the visits, over a dozen Senators and Representatives signed on as cosponsors of the recently introduced Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act (S352 and HR793).
The H2B program limits temporary seasonal immigrant labor by capping the number of available visas at 66,000. This limit threatens many small businesses, including landscape firms, with a shortage of labor and an inability to operate this year. The Save Our Small Businesses Act would exempt workers who had participated in the H2B program over the past three years from being counted toward the cap for the next two years, allowing their employers access to the labor they have become dependant on to meet their seasonal needs.
The 100 members of the H2B Workforce Coalition, through one day of over 150 Senate and House office visits, secured co-sponsorship support from Senators Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Herbert Kohl (D-WI), Joseph Biden (D-DE), Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Congressmen Candice Miller (R-MI), Dennis Moore (D-KS), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Jerry Weller (R-IL), Todd Platts (R-PA), Ron Paul (R-TX), Albert Wynn (D-MD), Joe Schwarz (R-MI) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD). During the week leading up to the fly-in visit to Washington, DC, members of the coalition engaged in grassroots efforts at the state level, gaining even more House and Senate cosponsors.
Landscape professionals were the largest single sector represented during the H2B Fly-In. Members of both ANLA and the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) comprised over 35 percent of the group, which also included representatives from the stone, seafood, hotel and lodging, travel and tourism, amusement and theme park, and salvage industries.