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National Restaurant Association - NRA turns up heat in support of H-2B visas

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NRA turns up heat in support of H-2B visas

The National Restaurant Association is ramping up its efforts to make sure that restaurant employers can continue to use the H-2B visa program.

The NRA and the H-2B Workforce Coalition recently wrote to Congress to urge lawmakers to head off punitive new rules from the Labor Department that could make it almost impossible for employers to use H-2B visas.

The federal government makes 66,000 of these visas available each year for businesses that can't find enough domestic employees to fill seasonal or temporary jobs.

The DOL in March proposed numerous changes that would increase the cost and complexity of the program. Many restaurants use the program to help supplement their staff during peak-season times. The NRA filed comments with the DOL this spring urging the DOL to redraft its proposed changes.

Now the NRA and its allies are urging Congress to get involved. "The H-2B program is essential to employers who cannot find local temporary workers to fill jobs during their peak seasons," the coalition wrote to Congress.

"Employers who turn to the H-2B program do so as a last resort. It is only after employers have been unable to secure local workers after extensive recruitment can they look to the program to find temporary workers," the coalition told Congress. "The seasonal nature of these businesses and industries means that they routinely face shortages of local workers during their peak work periods. By filling temporary jobs, H-2B workers not only keep these businesses open, they contribute to the creation of additional, year-round jobs for local workers.

"In these challenging economic times, DOL should be pursuing policies that help employers expand their businesses and increase hiring. Unfortunately, the department’s recent H-2B wage rules will do just the opposite by delivering a fatal blow to seasonal businesses resulting in full-time job losses."

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