Labor and Immigration

Comprehensive immigration reform includes four pillars of reform: legalization; employment verification systems; temporary worker programs; and border security. GCSAA does not engage in the debate over legalization or border security. Due to the difficulty many golf facilities have in finding permanent and seasonal U.S. workers, GCSAA supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes guest worker provisions. Reform measures should safeguard seasonal worker programs and not place undue economic burdens on employers. Reform should create an immigration system and guest worker program that functions efficiently for employers, workers and government agencies. Reform should create a program that ensures U.S. workers are not displaced by foreign workers and ensures that all workers enjoy the same labor law protections. Reform should strengthen national security by providing for the screening of foreign workers and creating a disincentive for illegal immigration. Enforcement of immigration laws is critical for the economic vitality of the country, national security and for successful comprehensive immigration reform. GCSAA supports reform that creates a fair employment eligibility verification system for new hires that functions efficiently, effectively, and inexpensively for employers, workers and government agencies.

An available, legal and trained workforce is vital to the economic success of golf facilities and a top priority for the golf industry. Bureau of Labor Statistics data demonstrates the demographic reality that the U.S. population is aging, growth in the young workforce is declining, young workers are increasingly educated and disinterested in unskilled labor jobs, and major worker shortages are forecasted especially for seasonal and less-skilled positions. Significant labor shortages will make it difficult for many golf facilities to fill both their permanent and temporary/seasonal labor needs. Additionally, 95% of golf facilities either fall at or under the threshold for small business, as determined by the Small Business Administration ($15 million in revenue annually). These facilities often face slim profit margins and rely on access to a safe, legal and affordable workforce to operate. Further, many depend on foreign, seasonal labor due to the difficulty in finding U.S. workers willing to take seasonal, unskilled jobs. Proper documentation of workers presents its own set of unique challenges. The U.S. labor shortage, comprehensive immigration reform and mandatory use of E-Verify are issues Congress continues to debate as they try to address the need for a stable, legal workforce to ensure the nation’s economic security. Specific labor and immigration issues include:

  • H-2B Visa Program

GCSAA is focused on workforce development in a number of areas and can help secure the federal dollars that support these programs:

  • Founded in 1997, First Green, a GCSAA program, pairs golf courses with local schools for unique Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) learning opportunities. Not only does First Green enlighten communities about the benefits golf courses can have for their environment, it also inspires young students to pursue an education and/or career in STEM, including golf course management.
  • GCSAA also has an outreach initiative with the FFA organization, which targets young professionals including students and assistant superintendents, aim to drive interest in golf course maintenance careers and provide new growth opportunities for the existing workforce.
  • GCSAA is working in several states with chapters to support the adoption of the federally approved Greenskeeper II Apprenticeship program which allows interested candidates to further their agronomy education, work alongside field experts to gain on the job learning and gain a national industry recognized credential. This program is conducted through the U.S. Department of Labor. GCSAA is creating a chapter toolkit on how to start a program in your state.
  • Finally, GCSAA is also working with Operation Double Eagle, a program that helps transition active duty military personnel into careers in civilian life. This program helps create opportunities for service members to move into a career in golf.