September 19, 2018
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Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida petitions to hire 40 foreign workers

Carolyn Kaster | AP
Carolyn Kaster | AP
President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen from the media van in the presidential motorcade in Palm Beach, Fla., Saturday, March 24, 2018.
David A. Fahrenthold, The Washington Post

President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has applied for permission to hire 61 foreign workers to serve as waiters and cooks during the winter social season in Palm Beach, Florida, according to data posted this week by the Labor Department.

The latest data was posted late Thursday on the department’s website: Trump’s club has asked to hire 21 cooks from overseas and employ them from October to May. At the end of that term, the workers would be expected to return home.

Earlier on Thursday, another posting showed Trump’s club also wants to hire 40 foreigners to serve as waiters and waitresses at the club. Mar-a-Lago is a for-profit social club, catering to the wealthy wintertime residents of Palm Beach. It also houses private living quarters for Trump — who has visited repeatedly, and dubbed the club the “Winter White House.”

The postings show that — despite Trump’s insistence that immigration is holding down wages and crowding out native-born American workers — his club believes it cannot find any Americans in South Florida who are qualified to hold two very common restaurant-industry jobs.

The application to hire waiters was first reported Thursday by BuzzFeed.

The Mar-a-Lago Club has repeatedly used foreign workers in the past. Last year, his company applied for permission to hire waiters, housekeepers and cooks.

These postings give some hints about the business Trump’s company expects at Mar-a-Lago this year — and also about what it is willing to pay workers, in a time of slowly rising wages.

This year’s postings show Trump’s club wants to hire one more foreign cook than last year. But it is seeking to pay those cooks slightly less than in 2017: the posting says Mar-a-Lago’s pay for cooks starts at $13.31 per hour, down 3 cents from the year before.

The posting for waiters shows Trump wants to hire five more foreigners for those jobs than in 2017. The base salary his club is offering to waiters is higher in 2018: It rose from $11.88 per hour last year to $12.68 per hour this year.

The increases in the numbers of foreign workers sought by Mar-a-Lago come at a time when the club’s business model seems to be changing — transformed, by Trump’s divisive politics from a club focused on charity galas to a GOP clubhouse frequented by Trump’s friends and allies.

Last year, after Trump said there were “very fine people” among violent crowds of protesters in Charlottesville, many of Trump’s longtime charity clients quit. In their place, the club rented its ballrooms to Trump’s political allies: Young Republicans, the Christian Broadcasting Network and a group of superfans called “Trumpettes USA.”

Mar-a-Lago’s competitors in Palm Beach, including other social clubs and hotels, have also used foreign labor. The nearby Everglades Club – known for being more private in its affairs and restrictive in its admissions than Trump’s club – also posted an application seeking to hire 15 foreign cooks for the coming season, at the same salary as Trump’s club.

Trump’s competitors have said the seasonal nature of resort work — which picks up in the fall and drops off in the spring when wealthy snowbirds leave Palm Beach — is not attractive to American workers.

A spokeswoman for the Trump Organization did not respond to requests for comment.

Other Trump businesses have hired foreign workers for temporary jobs. Earlier this year, the company asked to hire 14 foreign workers to be cooks and waiters at the Trump golf club in Westchester County, New York. And the Trump Winery near Charlottesville sought to employ 23 foreigners.

To comply with labor requirements, the Trump Organization will need to follow a set procedure to prove it cannot find Americans qualified to wait tables.

Often, that means placing help-wanted ads in local newspapers, advertising at job fairs or contacting past applicants. If those efforts do not yield enough American applicants to fill the job, Trump’s clubs can ask the department to certify it has tried and failed to find homegrown labor.

After that, the Trump clubs can ask the Department of Homeland Security to issue visas for workers from other countries. Mar-a-Lago’s application says the club is using a labor contractor, Petrina Group International, it has relied on to recruit foreign workers in the past.

 


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