As I started working on this Influencer blog, I thought that I should first share the position of the NRCA who does so much for our industry. Here it is:
Immigration reform is vital to the roofing industry. Roofing industry employers provide good jobs for qualified workers but face chronic workforce shortages because of an aging workforce and other demographic trends. Immigration reform that meets roofing industry employers’ workforce needs is vital to addressing this long-term problem and significantly boosting economic growth.
Sensible immigration reform should address the roofing industry’s workforce needs in a manner that ends illegal immigration without encouraging a black-market economy. The roofing industry supports increased border security, mandatory E-Verify for all employers (Legal Workforce Act, H.R. 3711), providing a visa system to allow workers to enter the U.S. legally when our economy needs them, and addressing the existing unauthorized workforce in a balanced manner.
A fatal flaw of the 1986 immigration reform law was it failed to provide a mechanism to allow for legal immigration in accord with economic demand for industries such as roofing. To rectify this problem, Congress should establish a visa system available to industries such as roofing that is governed by market forces; ensures employers undertake vigorous efforts to hire U.S. workers first and protects foreign workers; is easy for employers to use; and enables job creators to obtain the workers needed to meet demand and grow their businesses.
The roofing industry commends Sen. Johnson (R-Wis.) for introducing the State Sponsored Visa Pilot Program (S. 1040) to address the needs of businesses facing workforce shortages by allowing states to create visa programs that best suit their economies. This innovative approach is one potential solution to the workforce challenges faced by roofing industry employers.
The roofing industry supports a legislative solution to allow qualified individuals who have been working legally in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to adjust to legal permanent resident status. Such legislation should allow individuals from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Haiti who have been working legally within the roofing industry for many years to continue contributing to their communities and our economy.
The roofing industry has strong concerns regarding recent proposals that would reduce legal immigration, such as the Securing America’s Future Act (H.R. 4760) by Rep. Goodlatte (R-Va.) and the Secure and Succeed Act (S. Amdt. 1959) by Sen. Grassley (R-Iowa). It is imperative reform recognizes the need for legal immigration when jobs otherwise will go unfilled by U.S. workers. Providing for sufficient legal immigration to meet economic demand is critical to addressing the roofing industry’s future workforce needs. We look forward to working with Congress to develop balanced solutions that fix our broken immigration system and grow the economy.
I am very proud to be a part of the roofing industry and so thankful that we have the NRCA and ROOFPAC to help us understand what is happening in D.C. We all have different politics but when it comes to the best policies and regulations for the roofing industry, we find ourselves for the most part rowing in the same direction.
When you look at our industry, we are overall, balanced. We celebrate entrepreneurship, family, community and our country. We have been able to build diversity through embracing a multi-national and ethnicity diverse workforce. But we must start speaking up to help build on that model.
We all work side-by-side with immigrants from many countries. My family is of Irish decent and we were not the most popular on the block when we hit Ellis Island. But the Irish became an integral part of building the infrastructure of America. We have the same dynamic today. Legal immigrants are bringing knowledge and skills to a country that needs additional labor and talent. The current workers and families of roofing are very impressive, but we need more.
The position of the NRCA is balanced, logical and good for our industry. We need to stand with them and let our legislators know that we want balance that supports our trade, communities and families. Please take the time to make your voice heard. Please consider supporting legal immigration that meets the roofing industry’s workforce needs. Contact your congressmen and women to share the NRCA policy statement and your thoughts on our future labor needs.
If you have questions feel free to contact NRCA’s Washington, D.C. office at (202) 546-7584 or (800) 338-5765.
Heidi Ellsworth is owner of HJE Consulting Group and a partner in RoofersCoffeeShop.com. See her full bio here.