Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Sen. Jeff Merkley and Rep. Peter DeFazio want to close loopholes in a visa program that lets forest companies hire foreign workers when there are U.S. citizens who would take the jobs.
The flaws in what is known as the H-2B visa program burst into national view last fall when the Inspector General for the federal Department of Labor concluded that at least $7 million in federal stimulus money intended to provide jobs to unemployed Oregonians instead paid wages to 254 foreign workers.
While the report triggered outrage in rural Oregon, where unemployment in some places was 20 percent and in Washington, federal investigators said no laws were broken. For example, under federal rules, notice of the job openings must be made where the job "originates." And while the bulk of the work took place in Oregon, smaller jobs originated in other states. That allowed the companies to post small ads in newspapers in California and other far-flung places for a brief period.
Read more at OregonLive.com.