Director of Public Policy, National Newspaper Association
WASHINGTON — Keeping notices in newspapers about agricultural job opportunities is important for U.S. workers, the National Newspaper Association told the U.S. Department of Labor in December.
The Labor Department has proposed a change in the rules for employers seeking visas for foreign seasonal or temporary workers. Congress requires those employers to make positive recruitment efforts to seek U.S. workers before looking abroad. Labor Department regulations consider a positive recruitment to be two ads in a daily newspaper. Now, Labor says daily newspapers are losing readership and are too expensive for farm employers, costing more than $600 per ad. It proposes allowing the ad postings on a job-search website instead and letting employers document their efforts by capturing a screenshot of the ad for their own files.
NNA and more than 500 newspapers filed objections to the proposal. They point out that putting ads in community newspapers closer to the workforce would be cheaper and better and that the readership of newspapers together with their websites would be more effective. The newspapers, ranging from the Ackley (IA) World Journal, to the Zionsville (IN) Times-Sentinel, told the Labor Department they believed their newspapers and websites were the best choice.
“U.S. workers deserve a fair chance at jobs before foreign workers are recruited. That is the law. We want to help the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security to make sure they get that chance,” the newspapers said. “We are among the nation’s 7,000 weekly and small daily newspapers. Most of us operate in small towns. Our circulations are smaller and our ad rates are far less costly than those of the metropolitan dailies that the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security have studied in their research. Our pages are more closely read than any website. The word-of-mouth promotion that emanates from our readers more quickly penetrates our communities than the internet does. We know our markets and can help employers find their workforce,” the newspapers said.
NNA’s separate filing noted that although the law does not call the recruitment ads a “public notice,” the requirement is for its equivalent and should be set up to follow the usual criteria for public notice. Using the newspapers would preserve the independence from the employers who are required to do the notification. The print pages and websites would be accessible to the workforce, which usually find their jobs within 25 miles of their homes, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture studies. Community newspapers are less costly and have access to statewide classified networks operated by their press associations. They are also permanent and do not evaporate as Internet publications often do.
The department also is considering a similar new rule for the recruitment of non-agricultural employees. More information about the Labor Department proposal is available at nnaweb.org.