ISSA Advocacy Recap—US Trade Deficit Largest in 14 YearsOctober 9, 2020
Welcome to the ISSA Advocacy Recap, our regular roundup of the latest public policy issues impacting the cleaning industry. This week’s recap touches on the growing U.S. trade deficit, new restrictions to H-1B work visas, updates to OSHA’s coronavirus guidelines, and more.
U.S. Trade Deficit up to $67.1 Billion in August, 14-Year High
The U.S. trade deficit rose in August to the highest level in 14 years, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the gap between the goods and services that the U.S. sells and what the nation buys abroad climbed 5.9% in August to U.S.$67.1 billion, the highest since August 2006. Exports rose 2.2% to $171.9 billion on a surge in shipments of soybeans, but imports rose more—up 3.2% to $239 billion—led by purchases of crude oil, cars, and auto parts.
U.S. Unveils Restrictions on H-1B Guest Worker Program
The U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security on Tuesday unveiled new restrictions to H-1B work visas as part of the Trump administration’s objective of overhauling a guest worker program the administration says allows U.S. companies to replace American job-seekers with foreign workers who they can pay lower wages, CBS News reported. Under the rule, employers will need to pay H-1B holders higher wages, a move that administration officials said will discourage U.S. companies from turning to less expensive labor from abroad. The rule will redefine the “specialty occupations” H-1B visa holders can qualify for, requiring petitioners to prove that they have a college degree in the specific field that they are seeking to work in. The changes also will expand compliance enforcement and mandate that workers hired through a third-party firm be granted one-year work authorizations instead of the current three-year period.
OSHA Updates Guidelines for Coronavirus Death Reporting
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released updated guidance that employee deaths from COVID-19 must be reported no more than eight hours after employers learn about such deaths, according to ConstructionDive. The OSHA guidance also says inpatient hospitalizations stemming from workplace exposure to the virus must be reported by employers within 24 hours.
Other links of interest
Pelosi, Mnuchin Speak about Broad Stimulus as White House Sends Mixed Signals
Canada Developing New Rules for Plastic Products