Labor Advocates Lament Lack of Protections in New Foreign-Worker Visas

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

SACRAMENTO – Criticism is coming in from worker’s-rights groups on the Trump administration’s announcement Monday that it will allow an additional 15,000 foreign workers to get visas.

The Department of Homeland Security will grant the extra H-2B visas for guest workers in the tourism, landscaping, construction, seafood and other seasonal industries – but not in agriculture, which uses a different visa program.

Daniel Costa, director of Immigration Law and Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank, says the program ought to be reformed to protect workers from abuse, not expanded.

The way the program is set up, it ties workers to one employer,” he says. “So if they leave that job or if they get fired, they basically lose that visa status and become deportable. And so it gives employers a lot of power over workers.”

The Trump administration says it simply is trying to accommodate requests from employers who are desperate for laborers. The current limit for H-2B visas is 66,000 – so this will bring that number up to 81,000.

In a recent report, Costa found there is no nationwide shortage of workers in those fields. In fact, unemployment has been high and wages have been flat in these types of jobs for more than a decade.

He argues that expanding the cap on visas will hurt conditions for guest workers and American citizens alike.

“U.S. workers have to compete with workers who are exploitable and can be legally underpaid under the terms of the H-2B program,” he adds. “And so that puts downward pressure on the wages and the working conditions of the U.S. workers who are in those same jobs.”

The report suggests that companies experiencing a local labor shortage do more to recruit from out of state and raise wages and benefits to attract more applicants. The expansion was approved a few months ago as a rider to a must-pass omnibus spending bill.

CDPH Releases Annual End of Life Option Act Report

June 29, 2017 by · 1 Comment 

SACRAMENTO  – From June 9 to Dec, 31, 2016, 191 individuals received aid-in-dying drugs under the End of Life Option Act, and 111 people died following ingestion of the prescribed drugs, state health officials reported Tuesday.

The information comes from the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) first annual report on the number of people who decided to end their life under the provisions of the state’s End of Life Option Act (Act).

The Act, which became law in June 2016, allows qualified terminally ill adults in California to obtain and self-administer aid-in-dying drugs. It also requires state health officials to annually report the number of prescriptions written and the number of known individuals who died using aid-in-dying drugs.

The Act also requires state health officials to include demographic information on the individuals who use the Act to end his or her life, including age and underlying illness.

According to the report, of the 111 individuals, 87.4 percent were more than 60 years of age, 96.4 percent were insured and 83.8 percent were receiving hospice and/or palliative care.

To read the full report, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/

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