A plan to help put unemployed forest workers in Oregon back to work isn't accomplishing its goal. Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley says only about half of the forest service projects through Recovery Act funding in Central Oregon are going to Oregonians. Instead they're going to foreign workers here on work visas.
Merkley and Don Pollard of GFP Enterprises in Sisters spoke at a press conference. “We have 5000 workers who want to want jobs to work in the forests, but they hired foreign workers instead on H2B programs. This is outrageous and unacceptable. We must change that. What we're finding we lost out to H2B companies who outbid us by 30% to 40%. When we bid we're just trying to find work for out employees, not trying to make a lot of money.” Merkley in the Senate and Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio in the House are introducing legislation to prevent this practice in the future by giving government more oversight in who gets the contracts.