Alabama’s forestry industry is protesting a new federal rule that will increase wages for migrant workers on special work visas and is asking Congress to block the change.
“At a time when the state is trying to not only save jobs but also encourage the development of new jobs, this isn’t the way to do it,” said Alabama State Forester Linda Casey.
The U.S. Department of Labor has changed the way wages are calculated for people who are granted H-2B visas, which are work permits for temporary jobs in non-agricultural fields, including forestry. The result in Alabama, starting Oct. 1, will be wage increases for forestry workers of between 26 percent and 104 percent, depending on location.
Casey said she’s concerned that some property will not be replanted with trees because of the increased labor costs.
“Landowners are having to make a choice between this management activity on their property or paying the house note,” Casey said.