PLANET, the Professional Landcare Network, is trying to unite landscaping professionals, suppliers, employees and customers in a grassroots campaign for the renewal of the H-2B repeat-worker exemption.
H-2B is a guest worker program that provides a legal source of seasonal labor for landscaping companies. There is a mandated cap of 66,000 workers per fiscal year, and the number of workers given visas are split into 33,000 each half. The repeat-worker exemption allows for workers who prove to not be security risks to not be counted in the cap. Should the repeat-worker exemption not be renewed by September 30, 2007, then all current workers will be counted in the cap, creating a huge labor shortage.
“If the repeat-worker exemption expires, people will have to fight for workers. Not to mention year-round American workers in higher, management type positions will lose their jobs since they won’t be needed,” says Tom Delaney, PLANET Director of Government Affairs.
In response to the current situation, PLANET has started a grassroots campaign that is aimed to get Congress to pass a new Save Small and Seasonal Businesses Act that will permanently extend the exemption of returning H-2B workers from the cap of 66,000. Under this act, an H-2B applicant will not count toward the cap if they have entered the U.S. in one of the last preceding three years as an H-2B worker.
The campaign aims to bring together suppliers, landscaping companies, employees and customers to show Congress its constituents’ desires for immediate action. At PLANET’s Web site, www.landcarenetwork.org, you can find the H-2B tool kit, which contains letters to be sent to your congressmen, representatives and other landscaping professionals.
PLANET is asking people to print out and sign the pre-made letters they have, send them off to their representatives, and fax a copy to PLANET at (703) 736-9668. PLANET will hand deliver the copies of these letters to those legislators as well. Next, they’re asking people to call five other green industry companies and suppliers, and prompt them to send letters, and make phone calls and appointments with their legislators. PLANET wants employers to contact customers and urge their employees to send letters to their representatives as well.