Congressional Hearing on H-2B Visa Program Brings Massachusetts Restaurateur to Capitol Hill

(Washington, DC) –Massachusetts restaurateur Bill Zammer of Cape Cod Restaurants, Inc. today testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration about the importance of the H-2B visa program and the returning worker exemption.
 
“Bill knows first-hand the positive impact that the H-2B visa program can have on the restaurant and hospitality industry,” said John Gay, senior vice president of government affairs and public policy. “Today’s hearing emphasizes that Congress must act now. Passing temporary H-2B relief in no way threatens the progress of broader immigration reform, but failure to act threatens the livelihoods of many small businesses.”
 
Zammer highlighted the seasonal workforce shortage in Cape Cod, his efforts to recruit and retain an adequate workforce, the effects of an inadequate workforce on his business and community, and the common myths associated with temporary and seasonal workers.
 
“The H-2B program works for the hospitality industry on Cape Cod and in this country,” Zammer told the committee. “We support the need for comprehensive immigration reform, but in the process do not want to destroy the H-2B program which has successfully filled the needs of seasonal businesses across the country for decades.”
 
Speaking about the labor shortage in Cape Cod, Zammer stated that Cape Cod employers need an additional 23,800 workers between Easter and Thanksgiving, and approximately 5,000 H-2B workers are hired to help fill those needs.
 
“On average, a seasonal worker in my company will earn between $25,000 and $30,000 over 9 months,” Zammer continued. “They pay their fair share of taxes, social security and insurance fees. This program does not displace American workers. It keeps my American workers working year round, and keeps small businesses viable.”
 
Zammer is vice chair of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, a vice chair of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, and active member of a number of state and local workforce development boards.
 
The National Restaurant Association is a co-chair of the H-2B Workforce Coalition, and has been actively involved in the effort to make the H-2B returning worker exemption permanent; or at the very least provide an extension of the provision.
 
Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and John Warner (R-VA) have introduced S. 988, bipartisan legislation to provide a 5 year extension of the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act. Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) have introduced H.R. 1843 in the House that would make the exemption permanent. The National Restaurant Association supports both bills.