i don't believe trump's running his businesses at the moment
Trump again hires 64 foreign workers for Mar-a-Lago; little change in pay
by: Jeff Ostrowski, Pam Beach Post Updated: Dec 6, 2016 - 10:25 AM
PALM BEACH, Fla. - President-elect Donald Trump is driving a hard bargain for the foreign workers who will staff The Mar-a-Lago Club this winter.
He’s paying some of them less than they made last year, and most get just a 1 percent raise.
As the presidential campaign heated up, Trump won approval to hire 64 foreign workers through the federal government’s H-2B visa program, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Last year, Trump was allowed to hire 69 foreign workers at Mar-a-Lago.
While wage growth finally has begun to accelerate in the nation’s slow-to-recover job market -- annual raises reached 2.5 percent for the 12 months ending in November -- Trump is holding firm on pay.
The U.S. Department of Labor gave Trump permission to hire 19 cooks at $12.74 an hour, down from $13.01 an hour last year.
Mar-a-Lago also plans to hire 30 waiters and waitresses at $11.13 an hour, up from $10.99 an hour last year and 15 housekeepers at $10.17 an hour, up from $10.07 an hour last year.
In one nod to rising wages, Mar-a-Lago is offering a more generous rate of overtime pay this year.
Flat wages are the norm at Palm Beach’s private clubs. The Everglades Club won permission to hire 113 workers through the H-2B visa program. The 75 waiters and waitresses will get a small raise, to $11.13 an hour this year from $11 an hour last year.
But wages for dining room attendants at The Everglades Club will stay unchanged, at $11 an hour, while cooks’ pay stays at $13.01 an hour.
Trump isn’t alone in looking overseas for low-wage workers.
Nationwide, thousands of employers won permission to hire more than 119,000 workers through the H-2B visa program for 2016-17. In Palm Beach County, employers plan to hire 1,844 foreign workers this year, according to a Palm Beach Post analysis of federal data.
Hiring workers from abroad, however, seems to contradict Trump’s public pronouncements. The president-elect has publicly shamed Carrier Corp., Ford Motor Co. and other companies for their decisions to move manufacturing jobs to Mexico.
Neither Trump’s transition team nor Mar-a-Lago’s manager responded to requests for comment. During a March presidential debate, Trump defended his hiring of foreign workers.
“It’s very, very hard to get people,” Trump said. “Other hotels do the exact same thing.”
CareerSource Palm Beach County, a nonprofit job placement agency, said it knows plenty of American citizens who would be willing to work at Mar-a-Lago.
“We have hundreds of qualified candidates and hundreds of job orders for various hospitality positions such as servers, chefs, cooks, bartenders, housekeeping, guest services, spa services, recreation, maintenance and more,” CareerSource spokesman Tom Veenstra said.
While Mar-a-Lago asks the federal government for dozens of H-2B visas every tourist season, the private club has asked CareerSource for help finding a local employee only once in the past decade, Veenstra said. That was a 2015 request for a single banquet server.
As of October, Palm Beach County’s labor market included 35,766 job seekers who were officially unemployed.
Boca West Country Club is Palm Beach County’s most prolific employer of foreign workers. It plans to hire 351 employees this season, at wages of $10.17 to $17.64. The Breakers in Palm Beach will hire 142 workers at wages of $9.61 to $12.74.
i don't believe trump's running his businesses at the moment
NEW YORK TIMES
THE FINANCIAL PAGE
MARCH 20, 2017 ISSUE
FOREIGN WORKERS OF MAR-A-LAGO
The President has a dim view of extending visas to employees in the technology industry. But, when it comes to his club, it’s a different story.
By Sheelah Kolhatkar
When it comes to America’s technology industry, Donald Trump takes a dim view of foreign workers. “I will end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program”—it provides visas for technical and skilled employees—“and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program,” he said in a statement a year ago. “No exceptions.”
When it comes to the hospitality industry, though, Trump is much more, well, hospitable. His Administration recently made it harder to get H1-B visas, but he has expressed no objection to the visa category that hotels and resorts use—the H-2B—to attract low-cost, low-skilled seasonal labor. In fact, at Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach club, the visas are still in active use. Why the exception to the no-exception rule?
Since the election, Trump has been using Mar-a-Lago as a weekend retreat, a situation room, a source of personal enrichment (the private club just raised its membership fee to two hundred thousand dollars), and a backdrop for press conferences and photo ops. Based on the frequency of Trump’s visits to the opulent club since he took office, Mar-a-Lago appears to be a place—unlike Washington—where he feels at home. It is also a business that, for the past decade, has taken advantage of the H-2B program (distinct from the H-2A program, which is for agricultural workers).
Hospitality businesses like Mar-a-Lago argue that they can’t find Americans to fill seasonal jobs at the wages they advertise. Trump himself has said that “getting help in Palm Beach during the season is almost impossible.” Sandra Black, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin, suggests a possible remedy: increase the pay. “The idea that there’s a worker shortage means the firm isn’t raising wages,” she says.
The sixty-four foreign dishwashers, cooks, cleaners, and gardeners that Mar-a-Lago is expected to employ this year will be paid per hour roughly what they were paid last year. (The Palm Beach Post reported that the range is around ten to thirteen dollars an hour.) The foreign workers brought in to help staff the club tend to come from two countries, Haiti and Romania, according to someone who works at Mar-a-Lago as an employee of an outside contractor. Other clubs and resorts nearby hire even more H-2B workers than Mar-a-Lago does. “It’s very common in South Florida. He’s not the only one,” the person who works at Mar-a-Lago said. “But he is the President, and he has an example to set. Whatever they’ve said—‘We cannot find these people just for six months out of the year’—baloney. If you’re paying a decent wage, you’ll find people to work.”
Even Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, made a similar point. Sessions is a radical critic of immigration, so it’s no surprise that he would object to foreign-worker programs, but at a Senate hearing about the H-2B program, held last June, he argued that employers should offer higher pay rather than bring in foreigners. “Most Americans would like a permanent job and not a short-term job,” he said. “It seems to me that short-term jobs should pay more if they expect to get workers to work on a short-term basis.”
If your mantra is “America First,” there is actually a stronger case for the visas the tech industry uses than for the ones used by Mar-a-Lago. Giovanni Peri, an economist at the University of California, Davis, who studies labor and immigration, says that the H-1Bs can boost the employment prospects of Americans. In a 2014 report, Peri and his co-authors concluded that the tech industry in the U.S. would have recovered much more quickly after the recession had the government not pulled back drastically on H-1B visas in 2007 and 2008. The technology jobs offered to foreigners, they argued, would have created several hundred thousand jobs for American workers, including those without college degrees who perform support roles in the tech industry. “Many people say that Japan has lost its edge in high tech because of its immigration policies,” Peri said. “It’s very hard to immigrate to Japan.”
Tech companies, too, are mobile. If they can’t hire the engineers and the programmers they need in Silicon Valley, they can move to Vancouver or Mumbai. “The cutting edge of innovation is usually in a place that is very diverse and open, and if this place loses its edge there is relocation,” Peri said. There’s no similar justification for maintaining the visa for the hospitality business. Some hotels would have trouble finding workers without a big wage bump, but the businesses themselves wouldn’t move offshore; you can’t substitute a room in Vancouver for a suite at Mar-a-Lago. So why would Trump target one visa program but not the other? The answer, as with so much else that Trump has done, is hard to discern from the slew of contradictory messages, but it seems that, when it comes to his own businesses, he’s not eager to take a hit. And no one is making him.
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