Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gelber Announces Legislation to Protect Florida Workers

Today the Senate Commerce Committee passed landmark legislation proposed by State Senator Dan Gelber (D-Miami Beach) that will require Florida residents receive preference in employment in state contracts when state taxpayer dollars are involved. The legislation also addresses abuses within the H-2B visa (temporary worker) program where foreign workers have been approved for hire despite the availability of qualified Florida residents.

Senate Bill 2482 - which earned a 9-0 vote in the committee - requires construction contracts funded with state taxpayer dollars to contain a provision requiring preference be given to Florida residents. The bill authorizes the same provision be included in contracts from local government.

Senator Gelber commented, “Too many Floridians are out of work to be giving jobs away to nonresidents. This is, after all, Florida taxpayer money and at the very least it ought to be spent on getting Floridians back to work."

The bill also increases (from 10 to 30 days) the time within which a job advertisement associated with the H-2B Certification be posted with the regional workforce board and requires the want ad be posted in the vicinity of the job site. H-2B visas allow foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. temporarily and engage in nonagricultural employment which is supposed to be seasonal. It has been documented that some employers have gamed the system in order to import cheaper foreign labor. The 30-day window and advertising requirements will allow for more potential Florida employees to see and respond to the job order and, thus, curtail the abuse.

“With a 12% unemployment rate it is outrageous that qualified Florida workers are being denied jobs through an abuse by employers of a federal visa program,” Gelber said.

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