Tag Archives: H-2B visa program

Hiring seafood workers in Bristol Bay has been tough for years. This summer, it’s worse.

Seafood processors in Alaska’s Bristol Bay this summer have had trouble finding enough workers to handle the fish that come through their plants. Those in the industry say a confluence of factors, including a lack of visas for bringing foreign workers to the industry, a hotter economy in the Lower 48, and a record-breaking salmon run in Bristol Bay, was to blame. “There was a significant lack of process workers for some companies in the bay, and it exacerbated the problems of having to deal with high levels of harvest,” said John Garner, president of Seattle-based North Pacific Seafoods, which has locations across Alaska. Some processors couldn’t keep up with the huge amount of fish coming in, which forced them to resort to whatever method was fastest to get the pounds through the plant. click here to read the story 10:03

No free market in Maryland crab picking

I don’t doubt how productive and valuable Mexican immigrant crab pickers in Maryland are. Their bosses say they’re the heart of the crab industry. But upon closer inspection, it seems the seafood companies don’t really think this important work is worth a fair wage. The companies have lobbied tenaciously to make sure that the legal and regulatory framework of the H-2B visa program allows them to legally underpay their workers compared to what they would have to pay to attract workers in the free market …Maryland crab is delicious, if you can afford it. At $30 to $50 per pound, it’s certainly not cheap. That’s why I was curious to know just how much these H-2B workers were valued by their employers. click here to read the story 11:57

Md. seafood survives another round on guest worker program

Leaders of Maryland’s seafood industry are cheering an expansion of a guest worker program they deem critical for crab season as part of the $1.1 trillion federal spending bill signed by President Barack Obama this month. But industry leaders say they are concerned about the future. Labor unions, civil rights groups — and, increasingly, political conservatives — have taken aim at the program that brings tens of thousands of seasonal workers to the country annually, including for the crab-picking and oyster-shucking seasons on the Eastern Shore. Read the article here 14:33