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Louisiana Crawfish Workers Fight for Fair Wage Against the Federal Government

author Published by Chris Chmielenski

Americans have just celebrated Labor Day, and while their President has talked much about unions during his tenure, his Administration is still fighting against workers at every turn. The latest example is in a perpetually expanded H-2B visa program. Louisiana employees in the crawfish industry are challenging the program’s implementation because it drives down their wages by letting employers choose their own evidence for what counts as a prevailing wage. However, the Biden Administration is fighting tooth and nail to shut down the lawsuit before it even gets a hearing on the merits. God forbid the workers have a day in court to defend their right to earn a living!

For background, Louisiana crawfish employees are seeking to block an Obama Administration era rule by the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that allowed employers in H-2B to submit private surveys that demonstrate the prevailing wage rate in the job they are seeking to fill with a foreign worker. The H-2B program, by law, requires that the program not negatively impact the wages of American workers. The 2015 rule allows the employers themselves to provide evidence of what should count as the prevailing wage, which (big shock) often becomes a much lower wage than a broad objective analysis would set. DOL, our designated defender of American labor, has outsourced their job to the employers themselves, which is like having the Chamber of Commerce as our DOL Secretary.

So what is our “most pro-Union” President doing about employers replacing American workers with cheaper foreign replacements? His Administration filed a motion for summary judgment on September 6th seeking to shut down any judicial review of the H-2B program’s prevailing wage certification. In other words, rather than showing any concern or curiosity about wage deflation, he’s fighting to protect the right of employers to hire the lowest bidder.

While we cannot blame President Biden for President Obama’s 2015 rule, his defense of it today is still a direct contradiction of his supposedly pro-worker agenda. Elizabeth T. Leiserson of Southern Migrant Legal Services, an attorney for the plaintiffs in this case, said after the recent motion for summary judgment, “We are, however, saddened that the Biden administration continues to push against raising wages for vulnerable low-wage workers.”

Count me in the group of the disappointed, but not surprised. The Biden Administration has been pushing more immigration into the United States as a means of driving down wages to ease inflation. The DOL allowing employers to submit deflated wage surveys is a way to “flatten the curve” of wage increases. While President Biden brags about the increase in wages for American workers, his Administration is fighting in court to bring wages down. They are having their cake and eating it too.

Keep in mind that the H-2B program’s numerical cap has been expanded by President Biden multiple times while it has been driving down wages. The justification for this is that there are job openings Americans cannot or will not do. However, at the same time, the government is fighting a lawsuit from employees claiming that the wages are being set artificially low precisely so Americans will not apply. How can DOL and DHS expand H-2B at a time where they are hearing direct feedback from the workforce that the program is being abused?

I have been highlighting the costs to workers, foreign and domestic, of our current legal immigration system for a while. We have seen documented discrimination against Americans in H-1B and actual slavery and indentured servitude in H-2A. Recently I also wrote about child labor discovered in Alabama. Simultaneously, our betters in DC are championing exponentially increasing the number of legal immigrants in the United States. The only question is if they do not know or they do not care that our immigration system is consistently rife with abuse of working people.

All signs point to the Biden Administration not caring. After all, it is the Biden Administration playing the role of bad cop for employers in this H-2B lawsuit. It is the Biden Administration knowingly and eagerly pushing for expanding immigration programs they know are full of horrific abuse and wage deflation. It is the Biden Administration opening the floodgates at the border knowing full well the risk of death and sexual assault. The rhetoric may be of compassion and humane immigration policies, but the end result is indentured servitude and abuse.

As for whether others do not know or do not care, it is our duty to remove the possibility of ignorance as an excuse. The legal immigration system is indeed broken, but not because it is discerning or overly restrictive. Our system is broken because our policy leaders are using it to subsidize industries. We seek to use foreign workers to produce products and services cheaply. The catch is that foreign workers are only a benefit in this model if they are abused. Meanwhile, American workers are then forced to accept abuse or unemployment. There are no jobs Americans will not do. There are simply wages and working conditions that free people will not accept. This situation is clearly unsustainable and the only options are whether it is changed to reduce the numbers and increase labor protections for visas or whether the whole system collapses under its own weight.

JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA

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