Skilled American Workers Stay on the Back Burner

Dear All:

Happy Friday! Well, not really, but a close friend cautioned me about what she sensed was a growing sense of pessimism on my part. I assured her that my pessimism was not only healthy, but a survival response in light of the reality that is the Biden administration and the globalist swarm of apparatchiks and corporate power brokers that rule Washington.

In her book, “Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” investigative reporter Barbara Ehrenreich stated, “There is a vast difference between positive thinking and existential courage.” There have been a couple of existential threats that popped up on the radar this past week.

Hot on the heels of keeping the H-1B visa lottery in place for another season, the administration decided to double down on the deeply flawed notion that employers can’t find enough Americans to do anything anymore. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Labor (DOL) Secretary Marty Walsh struck a deal that offered 22,000 additional seasonal guestworker visas to corporations. (See more on this in this week’s featured column.) That’s right, with unemployment levels still way above pre-pandemic days and the only thing keeping mainstream America from going comatose is the federal government literally printing trillions of dollars, this administration wants more foreign workers.

Last year, PFIR analyst Joe Guzzardi wrote a column that dispelled the myth that companies couldn’t find U.S. citizens to do seasonal work. In the midst of a pandemic, the pipeline of temporary immigrant workers was interrupted, and employers had to hire U.S. applicants. Guzzardi stated, “Employers’ misty-eyed stories about looming worker shortages and pending bankruptcies replay year after year. Yet, when push comes to shove and foreign labor becomes problematic, low- and high-skilled American workers are – surprise, surprise – in plentiful supply.”

Unsurprisingly, many of these employers were pleased with the caliber of worker who applied for a job. According to an article in the Denver Post, Ryan Huff, Vail Resorts communications director, said that after ramping up his search in nearby communities, he was “really pleased with the applicants.” Further, Human Resources Director Sarah Salomon for the Sonnenalp Resort in Vail said that she received more high-quality applicants than ever. Some, Salomon said, “come with quite the pedigree in the service industry.”

Much of the recruitment for seasonal work has traditionally been word of mouth. A lot of the hay I bailed, fences I painted and manure I shoveled as a kid, and into my 20s, were jobs that came by word of mouth. However, the displacement that has been visited on the American worker in the past few decades has disrupted those informal job-giving networks. Like much else, those communication networks have been offshored, and Americans are no longer privy to learning about employment opportunities in their neighborhoods.

As expected, labor unions expressed their umbrage. According to a Bloomberg article a union tweeted, “We don’t need more H-2B visas – we need worker protections! In one city where 91 percent of our current union hotel housekeepers are still out of work, a major hotel company is asking for more H-2B visas. Why is this necessary?”

It’s difficult to believe that a little over 14 months ago, leaders from the UAW and AFL-CIO gathered at the White House and spoke glowingly of President Trump’s signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which replaced the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. At this point does anyone believe the Democratic Party is in anyway concerned with the country’s workers?

In a Politico article entitled, “Unions Warn Senate Democrats: Pass the PRO Act, or Else,” an unidentified union official stated, “We’ve been vocal and telling everyone that. No money, no support of PRO.”

The Protecting the Right to Organize Act of 2021 (PRO Act) is a bill that will expand various labor protections relating to employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace. I wish the unions would be as vociferous over the increase in seasonal workers as they are with the PRO Act. My guess is with Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-W.Va.) support of the bill, likely it will pass.

In the end, we will probably get both the increase in seasonal workers and the PRO Act. Tragically, the American worker will be no better off. It does little good to promulgate additional worker protections when Americans never got the opportunity to land the job in the first place. It is difficult to organize in a labor environment where there is an abundant supply of workers.

Lastly, the Biden administration is trying hard to delay an important reform created by the Trump administration, the Wage Level Increase rule. The rule that will increase the prevailing H-1B wage levels to reflect closer to market value was set to go into effect next month. However, the administration is attempting to delay implementation by 18 months.

The Wage Level Increase is the last of the Big Three rules (the other two being H-1B Specialty Occupation/Employer-Employee Relationship rule and H-1B Lottery Wage Selection rule) that has yet to be delayed or blocked. USTW submitted comments, along with groups such as the Economic Policy Institute and other activists, on the proposed delay by the administration. We can only hope that Marty Walsh at DOL is listening to the workers and not corporations.

At this point, I can say with a clear conscience that the Biden administration represents not just an existential threat, but a clear and present danger to the American worker of all stripes. Hourly wage earner or salary man with benefits, it doesn’t matter. If the last 100 days have demonstrated anything, it’s that globalists don’t believe American workers are needed.

I’d like leave you with a passage from Ehrenreich’s book and let it serve as reminder to gird ourselves, hunker down and get to work on creating a world we want:

“I do not write this in a spirit of sourness or personal disappointment of any kind, nor do I have any romantic attachment to suffering as a source of insight or virtue. On the contrary, I would like to see more smiles, more laughter, more hugs, more happiness and, better yet, joy. In my own vision of utopia, there is not only more comfort and security for everyone – better jobs, health care and so forth – there are also more parties, festivities and opportunities for dancing in the streets. Once our basic material needs are met – in my utopia, anyway – life becomes a perpetual celebration in which everyone has a talent to contribute. But we cannot levitate ourselves into that blessed condition by wishing it. We need to brace ourselves for a struggle against terrifying obstacles, both of our own making and imposed by the natural world. And the first step is to recover from the mass delusion that is positive thinking.”

In Solidarity.