OUR OPINION: Delay new labor rules affecting state's jobs

By NEMS Daily Journal

Controversy continued to gain intensity this week in Washington between the Obama administration and several influential southern senators, including Republicans Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, who have introduced a resolution objecting to Obama administrations regulations governing pay and hiring that would be required for legal, temporary foreign workers with a wrk history in some businesses, including Mississippi’s shrimping industry.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the H-2B resolution of disapproval this week.
The regulation in question is the Department of Labor’s plan to restructure the H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program.
“There are a lot of workforce problems on the Gulf Coast and in Mississippi that the federal government should not make more difficult. … Unfortunately, the Department of Labor has proposed two H-2B rules in the past year that will make the process of hiring workers even more cumbersome and more challenging to deal with in a positive way, especially for small businesses,” Cochran said in an statement released by his Washington office.
Cochran questioned Labor Secretary Hilda Solis March 14 during a Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee hearing on the FY2013 budget reques.
Solis offered to have Labor Department officials work with Mississippi businesses.
Cochran was not satisfied with her approach because it would limit advance hiring to 21 days, rather than the months-in-advance in practice, and it would require higher specific wage levels and payment practices that would drive up costs and possibly impair profitability.
The H-2B revisiom is scheduled to go into effect on April 23.
Cochran’s and Wicker’s concerns include: * Requiring employers to advertise for U.S. workers up to 21 days prior to the job start date, which would inhibit seasonal industries that require months in advance to recruit.
* Requiring employers to pay transportation and subsistence costs.
* Requiring employers to pay H-2B workers a minimum of 75 percent of their wages for each 12-week period they are employed, even work disrupted.
A now-delayed full H-2B wage rule would mandate hourly wage increases for seasonal workers ranging from $1.29 an hour for food service employees to $10.61 an hour for construction workers.
An H-2B resolution of disapproval has already been filed by U.S. Reps. Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo, both Mississippi Republicans.
Given the predicted severity of the financial, as seen by the objecting senators, a delay makes sense.
Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but regulations viewed as extreme and with an uncertain impact should be temporized and further examined.