If you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu. If we don’t engage in ways that advance our interests, decision will be molded by others that don’t share our insights. I never realized how important this was or how effective I and other small contractors
could be until
Raul Berrios, NHLA Past President RulyScapes (Centreville, VA)
What policies have we influenced
Thus far we have focused on policies that seek to limit the use of turf in residential and commercial settings and on policies that would make it more difficult for reputable companies to source needed labor. We have furthered our objectives through coordinated engagement by our members and through collaboration with others that share our interests and concerns.
We have spoken up against turf limitations that have been embraced without any scientific basis by the Environmental Protection Agency and bodies that develop green building codes. Through direct engagement with those entities and with our elected officials in Congress, and through media coverage we have advanced the environmental and human health benefits of turf and challenged policies that prescribe arbitrary limits on it. After speaking with us, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio, Lamar Alexander, James Inhofe, and Bill Nelson agreed to write the EPA administrator regarding their concerns that the EPA WaterSense 40% percent turf limitation was bad environmental policy and put a quarter of a million Hispanic jobs at risk. We also provided testimony at an International Code Council hearing. These ongoing efforts have contributed to a rethinking in various sectors and we hope to persuade the EPA to soon drop a 40% turf limitation from its WaterSense program.
We have also challenged proposed changes to the H2-B program by the Department of Labor that would make it more difficult for reputable companies to source needed labor. Through direct engagement with DOL officials and with our elected officials in Congress, through formal written comment, and through media coverage we have advanced the importance of a reliable visa program for sourcing seasonal foreign workers to fill jobs that Americans in sufficient numbers do not wish to take, and argued against policies that would make it more difficult and expensive to utilize the program. Faced with a September 30, 2011 wage increase that would have crippled some member companies and possibly forced others to close, the NHLA joined with others including PLANET to sue DOL. Shortly after our doing so, the DOL decided to delay implementation of the wage increase by 60 days. We continue to seek every opportunity for engagement and will continue to educate leaders on the unintended consequences that the proposed policies will have including the likelihood that many thousands of Hispanic-American laborers, supervisors, mechanics, human resources reps and others might loose their jobs and that many Hispanic-American owners might loose the companies they have worked years to build.