AUGUSTA – On Monday, Senate President Troy Jackson, D-Allagash, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) for repeatedly failing to enforce H2A immigration law with regard to the practice of cabotage by Canadian H2A workers in Maine’s logging and trucking industry.
“When Mainers are on a level playing field, they can compete head-to-head with workers anywhere. Unfortunately, over and over the U.S. Department of Labor has failed to enforce federal H2A immigration laws, leaving Maine workers at at a disadvantage,” said President Jackson. “The law is clear. U.S. drivers from Canada are not allowed to pick up a load in the U.S. and deliver it to somewhere else within the country before returning to Canada. This isn’t about the Canadians; it’s about the U.S. allowing companies to violate the law and leaving American workers to pay the price. I am asking the department something very simple: enforce the law and protect logging and trucking jobs for hard-working people in our state.”
Jackson’s complaint alleges that USDOL allowed companies to use H2A workers in a manner that violates federal cabotage laws and employ H2A workers despite having enough qualified, willing and able U.S. workers available for the job. Lastly, the complaint alleges that the outcome of these practices has adversely affected the wages and working condition of U.S. workers doing similar jobs — a central tenet of H2A laws.
Under current law, Canadian trucking companies are allowed to bring goods into the U.S. and bring goods back to their country of residence. However, the law explicitly states that Canadian trucking companies cannot transfer goods from one location in Maine to another, taking jobs away from Maine residents. Unfortunately, Canadian trucking companies will enter the state to either pick up goods or make deliveries between the two countries, but along the way, these companies will pick up and deliver goods within the state. This is cabotage and is clearly against the law.
Earlier this year, Jackson introduced a bill to hold landowners who participate in this practice accountable. At the federal level, Congressman Jared Golden called for an investigation into the violation of federal cabotage laws in July.