TUESDAY, February 21, 2012







New DOL Rules Promote Fairness In the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Temporary Workers

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc., Migrant Worker Leaders Applaud US Department of Labor’s Stance against Recruitment Abuse for H-2B workers

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, February 20, 2012—Today, the US Department of Labor (DOL) published new rules for the H-2B non-agricultural guestworker visa program to protect migrants abroad and job-seekers in the United States.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) and migrant worker leaders from the Comité de Defensa del Migrante (Migrant Workers’ Defense Committee) applaud the DOL for taking a stand against recruitment and employment abuses. These abuses were detailed in Picked Apart: The Hidden Struggles Of Migrant Worker Women In The Maryland Crab Industry, a report co-authored by CDM and American University Washington College of Law.

Protections in the new rule for H-2B migrant workers include:

  • Job Contract. Employers must provide a copy of the job order to each H-2B worker in a language the worker understands no later than when the worker applies for the visa. Workers often rely on false promises about the pay and work conditions in deciding to go to the U.S. This will help prevent fraud and misinformation.
  • Contractual Prohibition on International Labor Recruitment Fees. In their contracts with recruiters, employers must specifically prohibit recruiters from charging international labor recruitment fees.  This will help prevent workers from going into debt, just to get a job.
  • Three-Fourths Guarantee. To prevent over-recruitment and the benching of workers, employers of H-2B workers will be required to pay them at least three-quarters of the hours promised in the work contracts for each 12-week period (and for workers with contracts that are shorter than 120 days, each 6-week period).  In the past, workers have been brought to the U.S. and then given little or no work, while paying high costs for housing and food.
  • Prohibition on Retaliation. H-2B employers are prohibited from retaliating against workers for filing or instituting complaints, providing testimony, consulting with workers’ center or lawyers, and exercising or asserting, on behalf of himself/herself or others, any right or protection.
  • Reimbursements for Visa and Travel Fees. Employers must pay or reimburse workers for the full amount of inbound travel and subsistence after a worker completes 50 percent of the employment contract. Employers must also provide outbound transportation and subsistence for migrants who work until the end of the job order or who are dismissed for any reason before the end of the job order.
  • Improved Transparency in International Labor Recruitment. Employers must provide DOL with a copy of all agreements with any agent or recruiter with whom they engage or plan to engage in recruiting H-2B workers.

“With enforcement, the new protections in the H-2B rule will reduce many of the serious recruitment and workplace abuses in the H-2B program,” said Rachel Micah-Jones, the CDM’s Founder and Executive Director. “This rule is an important victory for workers.”

Elisa Tovar Martinez, a former H-2B worker in Maryland’s crab industry featured in the Picked Apart report and migrant worker leader of the Comité de Defensa del Migrante (Migrant Workers’ Defense Committee), said, “I am very pleased that we are realizing the fruits of the work that we have done as the Comité de Defensa del Migrante with CDM and other organizations to benefit migrant workers. Just conditions are what we seek.”

The new rule will be effective on April 23, 2012. For more information about the H-2B program, see the National Employment Law Project’s “Fact Sheet: H-2B Guestworker Program and New Labor Department Rules to Protect U.S. and Foreign Workers.”

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. is a transnational 501(c)(3) non-profit migrant rights organization with offices in Mexico City, Mexico, Juxtlahuaca, Oaxaca and Baltimore, Maryland. The Comité de Defensa del Migrante (Migrant Workers’ Defense Committee) is a group of community-based leaders who organize and empower migrant workers to defend themselves and educate their co-workers.






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