Bread and Roses Bakery Inc., located in Ogunquit, Maine, reached a settlement with the Department of Labor over allegations that the bakery committed H-2B violations in its hiring practices. The settlement calls for the company to pay $95,000 in back pay and fines.
Owner Mary Breen said that her business "sometimes has trouble finding seasonal workers" and attempted to use the H-2B visa program to hire temporary foreign workers.
DOL stated that she advertised positions for counter attendants that paid between $8.79 to $9.09 an hour. She then subsequently hired foreign workers at $10-$13 an hour. DOL stated that "American workers might have taken the jobs if the actual rates had been properly advertised."
Bread and Roses Bakery Inc. committed other H-2B violations as well. Although they advertised the positions as counter attendants, nine foreign workers were subsequently used as bakers and were paid below the prevailing wage. In addition, the bakery paid no overtime to 45 employees and refused to reimburse the H-2B workers for visa expenses normally covered by employers. Unrelated to the H-2B violations, the bakery violated hourly work restrictions for an employee under the age of 18.
Daniel Cronin, the director of DOL's Wage and Hour Division in northern New England, said in a statement to the Portland Press Herald that "This case highlights our commitment to protecting U.S. workers by ensuring that employers provide them the best opportunity for employment before using non-immigrant visa programs."
For her part, the owner remarked casually that she thought the government had "more important things to do" than enforce laws that protect Americans from unfair competition via foreign workers. Research shows that temporary foreign workers threaten the jobs of America's low-skilled workers and remove opportunities for some of the most vulnerable among us. In this case, Americans were not given the opportunity to fill relatively high-paying temporary jobs because of the illegal actions of a company determined to hire foreign workers.