President Donald Trump will sign an executive order aimed at strengthening Buy American and Hire American regulations during a visit Tuesday to the Kenosha headquarters of Snap-On Inc.
The order addresses how products are used in federally funded projects and policies related to immigration, visa and guest worker programs, according to a background briefing provided to reporters by senior administration officials and posted to the White House website.
The officials said the order directs the departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to “take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse … in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States.”
The order would move the H1B visa program from a random lottery to a more skill-based system. The officials said 80 percent of workers in the H1B program are paid less than the median wage in their fields.
The order also directs all agencies and departments to “conduct top-to-bottom assessments aimed squarely at cracking down on weak monitoring, enforcement, and compliance efforts, and at rooting out every single Buy American loophole.”
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will review the findings and submit a report to Trump within 220 days.
The order also calls for taking “the flagrant use of unfair trade practices like dumping and injurious subsidization” into account in the bidding process for government contracts with Buy American provisions. The order will also limit the use of Buy American waivers and reaffirm standards for U.S. produced steel.
The officials said the event was being held at Snap-on because companies with domestic manufacturing have “an inherent interest in a narrow construction of Buy American rules,” adding the company has a lot of federal contracting work that would benefit.
Snap-On has sought H1B visas for an average of almost nine positions a year since fiscal 2009. During the first half of fiscal 2017 the company has sought visas for seven positions, including three in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin positions include a senior internal auditor, internal auditor and senior project engineer. The seven positions had an average wage of $88,970, compared to a prevailing wage of $77,634.
Snap-On’s relationship with Gateway Technical College was also cited as a reason for the visit. The officials said even though H1B focuses on STEM fields, all graduates of the technical school would “earn a higher wage if our guest worker programs are not being used to drive down wages.”
Snap-On chairman and chief executive officer Nicholas Pinchuk focused his comments in a statement on the company’s website on the need to “arm our people with the technical capabilities” required to compete globally.
“The upskilling of the American workforce is the seminal issue of our time. We must refocus on technical education, restore our respect for the dignity of work, and celebrate technical jobs not as the consolation prize of our society, but as what they really are – a national calling essential to our ongoing prosperity,” Pinchuk said.