In a victory for seasonal H-2B employers, including golf facilities, a federal judge in the Bayou Lawn & Landscape Services vs. Hilda Solis lawsuit issued a preliminary injunction yesterday prohibiting the U.S. Department of Labor from implementing the H-2B visa program overhaul rule.
The H-2B visa program is essential for seasonal businesses that cannot fill seasonal jobs with American workers despite intensive recruitment efforts. The rule was slated to go into effect today. GCSAA’s delegation to National Golf Day earlier this month raised concerns with federal lawmakers about the future of the H-2B visa program.
“Many golf facilities will be unable to fill their staffing needs during their peak season without this program," said Chava McKeel, GCSAA senior manager of information and public policy. "During the peak season golf facilities generate the revenue necessary to keep the facility running year round, therefore it is important they have access to H-2B visa workers. To be sustainable, these businesses depend on the temporary H-2B workers.”
Separate groups of H-2B employers filed two federal lawsuits in 2011 attempting to stop DOL from implementing a new H-2B visa wage rule that would increase by 50 percent, on average, wages paid to H-2B workers. One lawsuit was filed in Louisiana. The judge in that case allowed organized labor to intervene in the case and transferred the case to Pennsylvania. The case is still pending.
The other lawsuit (which includes PLANET and other landscape companies as plaintiffs) was filed in Florida. GCSAA supported this litigation effort. Back in November, the judge in the case denied organized labor’s attempts to intervene in the case and also to move the case to Pennsylvania. This case is also pending. Late last fall, Congress also pushed back the effective date of the new H-2B visa wage rule until October 1, 2012 because of grassroots support from the H-2B Workforce Coalition (GCSAA is a member).
This month, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce joined plaintiffs from the H-2B wage lawsuit in Florida in filing a separate lawsuit challenging the DOL’s H-2B program overhaul rule. Plaintiffs again questioned the DOL’s authority to change H-2B visa program requirements.
Yesterday's preliminary injunction ruling prevents the DOL from implementing the program overhaul rule. Consequently, the ruling will also impact DOL’s plans to implement the wage rule on October 1. While the ruling was in Florida, the decision applies nationwide.