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Going wages

"Going wages" Continued...

Issue: "Border bandits," Dec. 3, 2011

A mandatory wage increase for industries operating on small margins in a down economy doesn't make economic sense. Neil Ward, spokesman for the national Forest Resources Association, said Americans won't take reforestation jobs even if the pay is raised: "The reason they're having trouble getting domestic workers to take these jobs is because they are seasonal and migratory."

Even if jobs and production are lost, though, the mandate for higher wages makes political sense: Ward said the Obama administration "has taken a lot of heat for not doing enough for its constituency, which is organized labor." Secretary of Labor Solis, who took office in 2009 as a labor union favorite, has pushed for unions to have more power. The Labor Department in a press release defended its action as "more fully protecting the job opportunities and wages of U.S. workers."

Update: On Nov. 18 President Obama signed into law an appropriations bill that includes language preventing H-2B wage changes from being put into effect before January 2012.

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