July 28, 2009

Maine: Canadian loggers breaking law

Canadian logging companies routinely violate laws by hiring foreign loggers to work in Maine and discouraging local ones from applying, a state official says.

In a letter to the U.S. Office of Foreign Labor Certification last week, Maine Labor Commissioner Sheila Fortman said the violations are pervasive and industry-wide, the Bangor Daily News reported. She asked the federal government to investigate the Canadian companies' use of H-2A waivers that allow the hiring of foreign workers as temporary employees when U.S. employees are not available.

This is not a question of investigating a few individual complaints, she said.

State officials say the Canadian companies sometimes charge Maine loggers a fee even to enter their property to apply for work. Other alleged practices include companies that do not have a physical location where local loggers can seek work and the posting of pay rates lower than those the companies eventually pay Canadians.

Some of the complaints surfaced at a forum for Maine loggers in June.