|Exclusive News and Interviews
Trade Show Day 4
By MCW Staff
Gibsonton - The pace began to really pick up today at the booth and on the grounds. The MCW booth received many visitors checking in and telling us of some new developments.
Richard Tinsley of Tinsley's Amusements will be receiving an all new website from Matt's Web Design in the near future. Watch for notice here on MCW. Gene Dean of Fiesta Shows also checked in early in the am. Dean reported that the show had picked up the Skowhegan State Fair in Maine, returning after an 8 year absence.
Harold Fera, and our own Snowman, Avery Wheelock, checked in to confirm Rockwell Amusements had purchased a Street Fighter and Wacky Worm for the coming season. Barbara Prevost, one of our senior-citizen readers, also stopped by for help in registering on the board. She told us she only has dial-up but checks the board regularly. Mrs. Prevost said she travels during the season with Jules and Beck where she has games and food.
Buddy Merton is now a full time concessionaire. He will be operating 15 games with Reed Williams' carnival in the west. Gary Otterbacher, formerly of Otterbacher Manufacturing, stopped in to show us his new cargo trailer website and video at www.hiwaystartrailer.com.
Others visiting or saying hello were Rick Reithoffer, Jimmy Drew, Steve Tolve, Steve Lisko, Pat Dunham, Prof. Lee and Mike Featherstone. The MCW booth also received a visit from Minnesota State Fair Manager Jerry Hammer, Assistant GM Jim Sinclair and Utah State Fair manager Rick Frenette. The group had been to the Florida State Fair on Thursday evening and were visiting the show on Friday.
"International Staffing", a seminar sponsored by the OABA and presented by their outside general counsel, Wayne Pierce was held at 1pm. This popular topic had a standing room only attendance of over 50 people.
Pierce called immigration "not only the social issue of our time but also the employment issue of our time". International Staffing has become a popular way to find qualified, hard working employees for the season.
Pierce explained there were three types of visas that carnivals may use for employees. The first type is the J-1 visa. This visa is essentially for students and capped at 120 days for work. This visa enables the employee to be a free agent with the ability to come and go as they please. The second and rarest type of visa is the Q. This visa is used for cultural exchange and has been used by amusement parks that have themed areas. The most popular type of visa is the H2B. This visa authorizes the employee to work for only one company. You contract with the employee and are responsible for providing employment for the visa holder. There can be up to 66,000 new visas issued each year, returning employees are not included in the cap.
There are three essential parts to the visa process. First is the Labor Certification. This phase usually is administered by an attorney. You must file a petition showing that no one here is qualified and will take the job. You must agree to pay the prevailing wages which may range from $5.90 to $7.80 an hour. The state workforce determines the amount. The second part of the process is the recruitment of the foreign workers. The third and final piece is travel; making arrangements for the worker to get to the US.
Pierce highlighted several areas the foreign workers may impact your operation. Workers may or may not need worker's compensation and unemployment insurance depending upon the state. Employees are also subject to wage and hour laws enacted in each state.
Liability is also an important issue when considering foreign labor. Some shows have as much as 80% foreign labor. Issues can arise such as what to do with a liability case where the key witness must return to their home country? Other states have regulatory compliance issues. Connecticut, New Jersey and possibly South Carolina are requiring English proficiency for ride operators.
Termination of Employees is a third issue of interest for foreign workers. J-1 visa holders can leave and get a new job while H2B visa holders cannot. If a worker with an H2B visa were to leave, you must notify Citizens Immigration Service (CIS), If you fire the individual, you are required to pay their way back to their home country.
Pierce announced that the OABA will be instituting a foreign labor program in the near future. The program addresses many of the difficulties in hiring foreign workers and provides a reliable, cost effective option for carnivals. Adventure Law, Pierce's firm will be handling the labor certification part of the process. The OABA will be contracting with a South African recruiter who has actually worked on a carnival for a season. The recruiter is responsible for performing the drug testing, background check, health screening and other tests required for employment. The OABA will also be looking into low cost ways of getting the workers to the country.
The advantages of using the South African workers are that they speak English, are motivated to perform their tasks and unemployment for white citizens remains at 85%, providing a large pool of worker availability. The downside is that transportation may be higher. The cost of each worker is expected to be $2,000 to $2,200 per worker.
Pierce stressed the need to provide a good experience to the workers so word would get around that good jobs are provided. Bad impressions should be avoided because they can depress the potential labor pool.
Saturday is the final day of the trade show and MCW will have daily and wrap-up coverage over the next several days.