Photo: Latino Landscapers Sue Department of labor
The National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA), in conjunction with other leading landscape organizations, filed a suit against the Department of Labor (DOL) to stop proposed regulations on the H-2B seasonal worker program that would severely reduce the number of visas issued to seasonal laborers and increase the cost of the program, discouraging employers from using the program.
Implementation of the new rules would cause the elimination of thousands of jobs and risk the continued existence of hundreds of landscape businesses they say. Among the most acutely affected will be Hispanic Americans who represent roughly 35 percent of the landscape labor force.
Over the years, the H-2B seasonal worker program has become an integral part of operations for a great number of landscape companies across the country. The new regulations proposed by the DOL stand to create a huge financial burden on these companies because they would drastically reduce access to this unique workforce. The plaintiffs add that the proposed changes not only go beyond the DOL’s authority, but have also been set forth without a proper analysis of the industry’s needs and the impact it could have on landscape businesses and their employees.
A recent study released in November 2011 by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) identified landscaping as a key opportunity and economic engine for Hispanics in the United States. According to the report, landscaping provides a huge source of entrepreneurial opportunities for this demographic as the proportion of Latino-owned landscaping businesses is almost double that of the national average in other industries.
Currently, almost 16 percent of landscape businesses with payrolls are owned by Hispanics.