WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sarah Diment, owner of The Beachmere Inn in Ogunquit and a member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association , is expected to testify Wednesday, June 12, at a hearing of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax and Capital Access in Washington, D.C.
The hearing, “The Seasonal Employment Needs of Small Tourism Businesses and H-2B Visa Policy,” has been convened by Subcommittee Chairman Tom Rice, R-South Carolina, to examine the importance of the H-2B visa program and its use by small tourism and tourism-related businesses, including hotels and resorts. Diment was invited by the subcommittee to testify on behalf of the lodging industry.
“A strong temporary seasonal worker program is vital to the continued strength of hotels, inns, and resorts across the country, many of which generate much of their annual revenue during peak tourist seasons,” said Katherine Lugar, AH&LA president and CEO, in a press release. “We are grateful to Chairman Rice for calling this hearing and providing the opportunity to explain to the subcommittee the importance of this program and why its continuation is crucial to our members’ economic viability.”
Created in 1990, the H-2B visa program of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows a maximum of 66,000 short-term international workers to fill temporary jobs when no other workers can be found. An employer’s participation in the program is contingent on approval by four government agencies, and they must also prove that the business has a need for temporary workers, extensive recruitment for workers was unsuccessful, and the position offers no less than the federal prevailing wage.
“Maine is a state of seasonal businesses and none more prominent than those in the state’s tourism and specifically lodging industry,” said Greg Dugal, executive director, Maine Innkeepers Association. “In many cases our most desirable destinations are in our least populated areas, making it difficult to find the appropriate number of employees as each season rolls around. The H-2B visa program has been an invaluable resource for us to fill this seasonal need and quite frankly, I am not sure what we would do without it.”
In January 2011, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a rule creating a new prevailing wage methodology for H-2B workers that would have artificially inflated labor costs. Because the rule would harm seasonal businesses throughout the country and put the jobs of full-time workers in jeopardy, Congress blocked the rule from going into effect. In May 2013, DOL and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reissued essentially the same rule despite the resulting economic harm, and the action taken by Congress against the previous rule. Although DOL and DHS deemed that the rule went into effect upon publication, comments are being accepted until June 10.
Serving the hospitality industry for more than a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.
Matt Rhodes | Director of Marketing/Communications | American Hotel & Lodging Association | 1201 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005 | Phone: 202.289.3132 | Fax: 202.289.3128 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ahla.com | The leading voice of the lodging industry for more than 100 years.
Contact: Matt Rhodes, (202) 289-3132
Maine Contact: Greg Dugal, Maine Innkeepers Association 207-865-6100