Owner of Dowco Enterprises, Inc., a landscape company in Chesterfield, Mo.
I have 36 full-time employees. We have 20 H2B guys, and 16 are permanent staffers. But these 20 H2B individuals that come and go, they are the nucleus of our production staff.
When it comes to regulatory concerns, the really big thing for me will be the temporary labor issue. We have been doing H2B for 15, 16 years now. Post September 11th, it got incrementally harder to participate in this foreign worker program. I believe it became bureaucratic football. Every year, there is a lot of red tape.
We use an attorney to navigate the application process. It is $125 an hour for the attorney. Every year, the attorney has to go through briefs with the Department of Labor and Homeland Security.
It's between $8,000 and $10,000 to bring the workers here and that is if everything goes okay. Generally, we are spending $16,000 or more to bring in our 20 people.
Also, the Department of Labor has advised us that our rate of pay to H2B individuals will go from $9.40 to $12.87: That is $78,000 in additional salaries. I have a lot of fellows who are making $14, $17 and they are going to look at me and say, "If he gets that increase, then where is mine?"
Honestly, I don't know where we are going get that $78,000. Fuel prices have already impacted us this year.
Raising this wage is really throwing a monkey wrench into small businesses -- and even larger businesses. I believe it is going to be a destabilizing factor as we try to get our country back on track.
And without having time to budget, this sudden increase in costs means we are going to have to eat it. We are going to have to eat it for the duration of any contracts we have already set with customers.
We asked 10 small businesspeople what would they ask President Obama to do to make it easier for them to hire.
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