Detroit Regional Chamber > Advocacy > Major Business, Tourism Groups Back Slotkin Bill Addressing Seasonal Workers Cap

Major Business, Tourism Groups Back Slotkin Bill Addressing Seasonal Workers Cap

February 14, 2024

Feb. 6, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-07) introduced today bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system to better meet the needs of Michigan’s economy. The Closing the Workforce Gap Act would adjust the H-2B visa program to key it to the needs of Michigan businesses that depend on seasonal workers. The bipartisan bill is co-led by Rep. Jack Bergman (MI-01).

The Closing the Workforce Gap Act has been endorsed by a number of important stakeholders in Michigan’s business community, including the Mackinac Island Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Detroit Regional Chamber, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association.

“We all know our immigration system is broken, and it’s time for elected officials of all stripes to step up and work in a bipartisan way to fix it,” said Slotkin. “I’m committed to advocating for smart, thoughtful solutions and to work for them in a bipartisan way. The bill I am introducing today will support an essential pillar of reform: keying our immigration system to our economy. I’ve heard time and time again from business owners in Michigan about how they are desperate for legal, vetted labor, which is why my bipartisan Closing the Workforce Gap Act will key the visa system to our economy and allow more legal immigration. I encourage my colleagues on all sides of the aisle to support this proposal, so we can finally get our businesses the support they need and begin to address our broken immigration system.”

“H-2B guest workers play a critical role in the First District seasonal economy. I’m proud to introduce this legislation alongside Rep. Slotkin to appropriately address the needs of our tourism industry in Michigan. We started working on this labor issue under President Trump and hope to see it codified into law to support rural economies that rely on a nearly entirely seasonal workforce,” said Bergman.

The Closing Our Workforce Gap Act:

  • Keys the H-2B visa program to the needs of the economy by linking the number of visas issued to the number of approved labor certifications issued by the Department of Labor in the previous fiscal year.
  • Ensures seasonal businesses like those in Michigan have access to the workforce they need by exempting rural and seasonal locations from the H-2B visa cap.
  • Supports the hiring, promoting, and retaining of American workers for the companies that use this valuable seasonal guest worker program.

“The Mackinac Island CVB enthusiastically supports the Slotkin-Bergman bill for cap relief solutions. Aligning visas with labor certificates is a simple and effective measure, while the inclusion of a rural exemption safeguards destinations like Mackinac Island who face unique challenges of seasonal job availability. We appreciate Rep. Slotkin’s and Rep. Bergman’s proactive approach in addressing this annual issue and eagerly anticipate collaborating with them to support Mackinac Island businesses on this issue,” said Tim Hygh, Executive Director, Mackinac Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“The Detroit Regional Chamber has long advocated for strong program integrity measures that ensure the H-2B program protects American workers and ensures fair job competition. With a balanced win-win approach, this H-2B legislation is essential for seasonal communities like Mackinac Island to maintain tourist destinations and ensure harvest seasons in rural communities operate smoothly. Amid ongoing labor shortages, this legislation plays a crucial role in economic stability and is a positive step towards a more efficient and effective H-2B program. The Chamber encourages lawmakers to act swiftly to pass this bipartisan legislation and provide much-needed certainty for businesses and communities across the country,”said Tammy Carnrike, Chief Operating Officer of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

“We commend the proactive initiative led by Congresswoman Slotkin and Congressman Bergman to introduce legislation aimed at expanding and fortifying the H-2B visa program. This proposed bill addresses critical issues facing seasonal industries throughout Michigan,”said Tim Daman, President & CEO of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce.“By linking the H-2B visa cap to the Department of Labor’s approved labor certifications, it ensures a responsive approach to meeting economic demand. Moreover, the exemption for rural and seasonal locations acknowledges the unique workforce requirements of areas throughout our state. Additionally, the incorporation of program integrity measures underscores the commitment to supporting American workers while facilitating the growth of businesses reliant on this vital guest worker program.”

“The biggest challenge facing Michigan’s landscape industry is finding and retaining a skilled and qualified workforce. As the state Association that represents Michigan’s over 5,000 landscape contractor and management firms, our #1 Legislative Priority is to support efforts that will alleviate the tight labor market and get more people in the workforce. Congresswoman Slotkin’s bill to amend the H-2B visa program would provide needed relief for our members from the workforce crisis by ensuring that the number of visas available reflects the economic need. We support and applaud Congresswoman Slotkin and Congressman Bergman for their efforts in helping to alleviate this critical issue for the landscape industry and support this bill,”said Amy Upton, Executive Director, Michigan Nursery & Landscape Association.

The full list of supporting organizations includes:

  • Mackinac Island Convention & Visitors Bureau
  • Detroit Regional Chamber
  • Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Michigan Nursery and Landscape Association
  • West Michigan Tourism Association
  • Small Business Association of Michigan
  • Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association
  • Michigan Association of Convention & Visitor Bureaus
  • Tourism Industry Association of Michigan

The introduction comes after Slotkin spoke on the House floor Monday evening to call for passage of a bipartisan immigration and national security deal negotiated in the Senate.

In October, Slotkin cosponsored comprehensive, bipartisan immigration legislation, the Dignity Act, which has the support of 21 Democrats and 8 Republicans and aims to stop illegal immigration, address undocumented immigrants living in the United States, strengthen the American workforce and economy, and strengthen future economic competitiveness.

She also reintroduced a suite of bipartisan legislation aimed at addressing border security and immigration and announced her cosponsorship of two pieces of comprehensive reform legislation.

She previously introduced the INTEL at Our Borders Act in both the 116th and 117th Congresses and previously introduced the Emergency Migration Response Act and Border Security and Migrant Safety Act in the 117th Congress.

In her time in Congress, Slotkin has also visited the northern and southern borders to see firsthand the issues with enforcement and processing, and called out the need to alleviate strain on border personnel and infrastructure. She has also publicly admonished both parties for the years of inaction on reforming our border security and immigration systems.