November 28th, 2007
08:23 PM ET
13 years ago

Question #1293: What will you do to keep guest workers coming into the US?

Jack Brooks from Cambridge, Massachusetts

(CNN) - Jack Brooks from Cambridge, Massachusetts asks: Hammered by competition with imports, our family-owned business struggles each year to find seasonal workers. We've been working with the seasonal guest-worker program, the H2B program, bringing in and sending home workers every year. What are you going to do to keep these guest workers coming to the US to save our business?

What did you think about the candidates' response to the question? What would you have asked? Add your comment below, or better yet, turn on your camera to record your commentary and reaction video and send in your I-Report. Your comments below or you I-Report video could be part of CNN's post-debate coverage.

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Mike Sullivan, Alabama

    We have used the H2B program for 7 years now and it has been quite successful. We have a seasonal need and this is an ideal legal program to recruit workers. If Congress does not approve the returning worker provision immediately it will put our resort and many other hotels in jeopardy of not being able to provide the level service our guests expect and pay for.

    We are not displacing any local workers. Our area's unemployment has ranged from 2.4 -2.7%. I can not find workers for these seasonal positions.

    December 4, 2007 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  2. Maureen Dye, Warrensburg, NY

    The speaker never addressed Mr. Brown's question. While his comments about immigration resonated with some of the audience, the H2B guest worker program is not an immigration issue, it is a business issue.

    I work for a stone quarrying business that relies on the H2B program for seasonal laborers. Despite the fact that we work in an economically depressed area of upstate New York and that the pay rate exceeds the minimum wage, we have not been successful at attracting and holding American employees to these jobs.

    Without these workers, the demand for our stone will outstrip our ability to quarry, package & deliver it. That in turn threatens the job security of the permanent workforce.

    The guest workers we employ are here only for the quarry season. And while they are here, they contribute to our local economy, rather than detracting from it.

    This program is critical to employers and employees in the stone, agriculture, landscaping, and hospitatality industries & the communities that support them.

    December 4, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  3. Andrea Richter, Kenosha, WI

    The H-2B workers are crucial in order for our industry to maintain the ability to perform the services expected and deserved by our clients. Without the H-2B workers the green industry will not be able to perform and function as viable companies, and in the end will put our industry in jeopardy. That, in itself, will trickle down, putting our supportive industries in economic distress as well.

    December 4, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  4. Creativexteriors, Inc. Denver, Colorado

    As a seasonal business who uses H2B March through October of each year it is critical that we continue to be able to access the H2B program that we have used for close to 20 years now. Our company cannot begin to fill the seasonal positions needed to take care clients when we advertise locally and get maybe 1 applicant. Without an extension to the cap that many businesses are pushing for in Colorado, the cap is met each year prior to our company getting certification. We need action on the cap legislation immediatly to save our 2008 season. As one of the 1st companies in Denver to use the H2B program for years, and as a concerned US citizen trying to follow the rules set forth by our government, please set aside the election year politics and help those of us that take the time and expense to save our workforce.

    December 4, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. Jan Thurgood, Phoenix, AZ

    "The problem is of such enormous complexity that the facts presented make it exceedingly difficul and virtually impossible to grasp at all the real significance of the situation",(Secretary George Marshall, 1947)

    It appears that immigration is a political football without air.

    When it comes to visas there is a general lack of understanding of how the various visas work and as a result they are all bundled into one mass. And that mass is being portrayed as a threat to the U.S. The absurd part is that the threat is actually in the form of companies losing their workers and their ability to produce their product. The H-2B program provides accountability to the Dept. of State, DHS, DOL, the sponsoring company, and the workers who enjoy the opportunity to work and contribute in the U.S.A.
    We desperatley need this program to work and the H-2R extension to be put in place for at least the balance of this fiscal.

    December 4, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. Chuck Bacon, Pennington, NJ

    Our landscape company has used the H2B visa program for seasonal workers for the past six or more years. We have been unable to get local U.S. labor to fill the void duing our peak seasonal need in the spring, summer, and fall months. We depend heavily on these workers, pay them the wage the Department of Labor tells us to, and take out the taxes and social security just like any american worker. Without these workers our business would NOT be able to run, and would close its doors putting our full time american workers on the streets looking for work!
    At one time I believed small businesses were the back bone of this county. Now I'm begining to think that is no longer true.
    I'm asking that Congressmen and Senators alike put politics aside and support "SAVE OUR SMALL AND SEASONAL BUSINESS ACT OF 2007" (S.988, H.R.1843) Please lend your efforts to bring this critical legislation up for vote and support its prompt passage.

    December 10, 2007 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. Dan Wanzung, Elmhurst Illinois

    The H2B program is the only available source for legal, temporary workers for our landscape company. It is vital to our company’s existence and therefore to all of our full time, resident, staff that would not have jobs if there were not the workers to carry out what they design, estimate and supervise! Without a third of our workforce that we depend on yearly, we will be forced to lay off full time employees! It will also mean shutting down or not purchasing new equipment, supplies and the support services of a host of other small & big business that are dependent on us. This program is a successful model for future temporary work programs and should not be pulled into the immigration debate! This is a critical program for the lively hood of small business, business's that serve the American public!

    December 11, 2007 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  8. Garden State Irrigation Inc. Wyckoff New Jersey

    garden state irrigation the proven workers should be exempt as they have proven their worth and should not be penalized for following the law.

    December 13, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. Linda Kelley

    The Lakes Region of New Hampshire can not supply the needed seasonal labor force for the upcoming 2008 summer season. With the H2B cap met for April and the Returning Workers Program not reinstated the hospitality industry here will be hard pressed to meet the needs of guests. What can we do now to find the work force to make our businesses viable? We are at our wits end! We employ as many local workers as possible, the H2B Guest Worker Program has been the only way we can find the service workers we need.

    January 7, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  10. Colon Grandy,Jr.

    Our seasonal retail produce stand has used H2-B labor for 7 years now. I have 9 people from Mexico that have been coming very year, the very same people. They have become like our family. If H.R. 1843 does not pass, we will have no choice but to close, and it will be forever. If we miss a year, it would take years to buid the business back up again. It took 21 years to build this business up, and just like that, down the drain. It's insane to punish the ones that are doing it legally. And now it looks as though Congress will play the fiddle while Rome burns. Colon Grandy, Jr.

    January 13, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. angry fry cook

    To ALL the business owners who are whining about having to close their business curtail operations etc. Let me ask this. If the H2B program didnt exist, would you have opened your business?
    If so, or you have been in operation with no problem in the past but now facing difficulty, What has changed to require the importation of workers?
    Also, if the H2B is only 66k workers/year and the average employer of them has several, how many businesses would be effected if it didnt exist? 1000-2000?
    The "problem" has been created because people have opened more businesses than their local labor markets can supply. So let supply /demand do its thing, Close your freakin business if you cant get employees.,
    Im on cape cod. wages have been stagnant for the past 12 years, meanwhile there are more restaurants and shops than ever. The local economy could easily do without 10% of the businesses here. Those that remain would see an increase in their sales and life would go on.
    All of you sound like the end of the world would happen if this program cease to exist. Bunch of friggen whiners.

    January 27, 2008 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  12. Michelle

    This program has a humanitarian aspect too. It is beneficial to the countries that the workers come from as they remit much needed foreign exchange to their families back home. It also helps them to develop skills of a higher quality than what is attained in the developing countries that they come from. One of the main reason for illegal immigration is to seek employment, this program helps to minimize the possibilities of this as workers knowing that their jobs will be available next season will not jepodize their status. It is much better than government aid, a sometimes it does not filter down to the needy. These workers need your help, take then back

    February 5, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
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