Senate Bill 2612: Guest worker provisions

Following on my last posting which summarized provisions for currentl illegal workers in the Senate immigration reform bill, I look today at the guest workers provisions. My personal comments are under “PFR”
Title IV Nonimmigrant and Immigrant Visa Reforms
H-2C visa program for “up to 200,000 workers annually. (Originally the language called for 350,000 visas annually, which is the approximate number of new illegal working immigrants per year). This program provides a path towards legal permanent residence.
PFR: I bet that the 200,000 worker cap will be relaxed.
The bill establishes worker protections for the worker, including the same benefits and working conditions as similarly situated workers, workers’ compensation insurance, a provision that no H-2C worker may be treated as an independent contractor, whistleblower safeguards, and other protections.
PFR: This provision has implications going far beyond guest workers. The independent contractor prohibition means that guest workers will have privileged status over Americans, because many workers – such as FedEx drivers, are independent contractors.
Employers must petition for approval to hire H-2C workers, certifying that American workers are not available at prevailing wages.
The federal government can deny an application from an employer if (1) the work is not agricultural AND (2) the unemployment rate of non-high school graduates in the metropolitan area location of the work has an unemployment rate of at least 9%. This provision is somewhat disingenuous because the problem for this workforce not fully reflected in the unemployment rate – many of these individuals, especially blacks, have withdrawn from the job market.
Prior illegal status can be overlooked “for prior conduct” and be eligible for H-2C Status.