Moments after posting the article in On Second Thought on the Department of Labor’s new rules concerning H 2A, Paul Boyle with the News Media Alliance submitted this update.
Interesting to note that Farm Bureaus around the country asked the department to accept postings from newspapers or by digital advertising depending on local issues. Also note that many employees told the Department of Labor that they do not have access to the Internet or do not use the Internet for religious reasons.
From Paul Boyle, Senior Vice President, Public Policy, News Media Alliance
The Department of Labor (DOL) published its final rule providing changes to the labor certification program under the H-2A agricultural visa program. The Department is rescinding the requirement that an employer advertise a job opportunity in a printed newspaper of general circulation in the intended area of employment. Furthermore, the DOL is reversing an earlier proposal that would have required employers to place an advertisement on websites that are “widely viewed.” Instead, the DOL is enhancing its electronic job registry, SeasonalJobs.dol.gov, where U.S. agricultural jobs will be listed. The final rule will go into effect on October 21, 2019.
While this outcome is disappointing, it is not surprising, as this is part of the Trump Administration’s regulatory relief initiative. As you know, NMA and NNA submitted separate comments to the DOL. We appreciate the support of state press associations in the development of those statements.
More details: In the discussion on the final rule, the DOL noted the newspaper industry’s position that printed newspapers are better situated to reach U.S. workers in rural areas – where the agricultural jobs are located – as many rural communities do not have access to the Internet. The DOL responded to these comments by saying that according to a National Agricultural Workers Survey, farmworkers in the U.S. very rarely, if ever, learn about job opportunities through print newspapers. The agency also cited one example in which an agent for H-2A employers spent $75,000 on print advertisements for 5,000 available positions and the “employers did not receive a single applicant in response to the advertisements.” The agency said that commentators (meaning newspapers) who urged the Department to retain the print newspaper-advertising requirement “did not point to data that showed such advertisements are effective in recruiting U.S. workers for agricultural positions.”
The DOL said that it was backing away from its proposal that employers take out ads on widely viewed websites after receiving comments from employers who said that they do not have access to the Internet or do not use the Internet for religious reasons. The agency said that by listing job opportunities on SeasonalJobs.dol.gov, employers in rural areas will not need to have access to the Internet. These job listings will be provided by State Workforce Agencies that will have an enhanced role in the labor certification program.
The DOL’s final rule is very disappointing particularly since it ignored comments from farm bureaus around the country that asked that the agency provide employers with the flexibility to use print or digital ads depending upon local market conditions. This outcome also puts at risk print advertising for other programs such as the H-2B (service, non-agriculture) and H-1A (tech; research) visa programs. It is clear from the agency’s reasoning behind this final rule, we will need to provide data that newspaper advertisements lead to the recruitment of U.S. workers for available positions under these programs. However, we all know that many employers may not hire a U.S. worker who has been seen a printed newspaper ad as they already have foreign, non-immigrant citizens in mind for open positions.