SPRAYFOAM Professional - Summer 2013 - (Page 23)

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE THE BRIGHTUP WRITE-UP… BRINGING THE BELTWAY TO YOU BY CRAIG BRIGHTUP, THE BRIGHTUP GROUP LLC IMMIGRATION REFORM AND CONSTRUCTION I n April, the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” (Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer of New York, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado; and Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida) introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 21 and covers virtually every aspect of immigration policy including more security at the U.S. – Mexican border and a pathway for the nation’s undocumented immigrants to earn legal status after being screened and paying a penalty. Of importance for the employer community is the bill’s provision for a new electronic employment eligibility verification system which will ultimately apply to all businesses in the U.S. It will be based on the E-Verify program and businesses will have to use it to ensure that individuals hired are authorized. However, it will be necessary to see that any bill passed by Congress contains legal “safe harbors” so that employers are not held liable for errors when they act in good faith. And it also will be necessary to see that employers can easily use the system with minimal financial and paperwork burdens. For construction employers, the most problematic feature of the bill is its new lesser-skilled temporary worker W-Visa program to grant a worker status for an initial three-year period. While the blueprint for the program holds promise and stems from an agreement between the AFL-CIO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as a practical matter it effectively precludes the construction industry from using it. The AFL-CIO has historically been opposed to guest worker programs and this is reflected by the insufficient number of W-Visas for all business sectors that need workers from abroad when U.S. workers are unavailable. And, at the at the insistence of the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department, the construction industry is singled out from all other business sectors for special rules under the program. Therefore, there will be an overall cap on W-Visas of 20,000 in Year 1 (2015); 35,000 in Year 2; 55,000 in Year 3; and 75,000 in Year 4. But, no more than 33 percent of the visas can go to workers employed in the construction industry and in no case shall more than 15,000 visas be granted annually to construction occupations. This means that for the construction industry – which employs 6 million workers, accounts for more than 5 percent of the economy, and faces a projected labor shortage of 1.5 million workers – the number of available W-Visas in 2015 would be just 6,600 (or 33 percent of 20,000). By 2018, when the 75,000 cap is reached, construction would be limited to 15,000 visas. After that, the new Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research would determine labor shortages across the country and start setting caps (not to exceed 200,000), but construction would still be limited to 15,000 visas. This tiny number of visas and other special requirements to keep the construction industry from using the W-Visa program will have to be fixed as the bill makes its way through the Senate. If that’s not possible, then the House will have to revise the program in its immigration reform package and demand that its version be accepted in a SenateHouse conference committee. o Craig Brightup is chief executive officer of The Brightup Group LLC, a government relations firm in Washington, D.C. He has provided services for 15 different organizations since 2009, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Roofing Contractors Association. www.sprayfoam.org | SPRAYFOAM PROFESSIONAL 23 http://www.sprayfoam.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of SPRAYFOAM Professional - Summer 2013

Executive Director's Corner- The Hose to Nowhere
President's Post - Feast, Famine ...& Friends!
Foam Business News
Safety First - Effect of Ventilation Rates on Applicator Exposure During SPF Application
Checklist - How to Reduce Exposures During SPF Application
Legislative Update - The Immigration Reform and Construction
Behind The Foam - Rob Tollen and George Tollen: Selling a Product They Believe In
Speaking Sensibly
2013 SPFA Contractor Awards
Ask the Expert - Perfecting Your Masking and Trimming
Upcoming Events
Index of Advertisers

SPRAYFOAM Professional - Summer 2013