The American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA) announced the “Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act,” which would provide H-2B employers access to much needed foreign workers, has passed the House-Senate Conference Committee. As a result, the ANLA-supported legislation will be part of the must-pass Emergency Supplemental bill funding military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill will now go before the House of Representatives for final passage, expected soon, and then to the Senate for a similar vote thereafter. Following passage by both the House and Senate, the legislation will be sent to the president for his signature.
“The inclusion of the H-2B fix in this bill is the direct result of individual small business owners and the communities they serve actively participating in the public policy process,” stated John Meredith, ANLA co-chair to the H-2B Workforce Coalition. “This is not a case of a special interest group influencing Congress but rather constituents mobilizing their political influence to shape law as needed for them to prosper in these difficult times.”
The legislation, which will provide service sector employers temporary relief from the H-2B program’s statutory cap of 66,000 seasonal workers, was aided by the relentless support of the H-2B Workforce Coalition, a “super coalition” of program stakeholder industries co-chaired by ANLA and the National Restaurant Association. In addition to cap relief, the legislation also creates new anti-fraud provisions in the program, institutes a more equitable allocation of visas and requires agencies to report statistical information regarding the programs to Congress.
Many businesses across America have become dependant on these seasonal workers, all of whom are properly documented and security screened by the Department of Homeland Security. Companies that cannot find adequate numbers of American workers to fill their temporary job openings rely on seasonal workers year after year to provide services in a wide variety of industries. In addition, jobs filled by these temporary seasonal workers often help to support year-round jobs held by Americans, which result as a consequence of the services provided on a seasonal basis.