Trump Winery Aims To Keep Hiring Foreign Workers

The president's rallying cry to "buy American and hire American" appears to not apply to his son's Virginia vineyard

President Donald Trump's son, Eric — REUTERS
Feb 17, 2017 at 12:32 PM ET

A winery owned by Donald Trump’s son, Eric, hopes to import nearly two dozen laborers from foreign countries to toil in its Virginia fields, a move that appears to be out-of-step with the president’s pledge to put Americans back to work.

The Trump Winery is seeking to hire 23 new foreign workers through the federal H-2 visa program, new records show. A petition filed by the Charlottesville company was posted by the Department of Labor on Thursday, as immigrants nationwide staged boycotts to protest the Trump administration’s policies toward them. The request marks the second time in three months that the winery, which is registered under the name Trump Vineyards Estates, LLC, has sought permission from the government to hire non-U.S. workers.

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Labor records show that Trump Winery’s newest foreign hires would earn $11.27 an hour to plant and harvest grapes beginning this spring, more than $4 an hour above the commonwealth’s minimum wage of $7.25. Conditions are punishing. These workers would be required to labor outside in weather as cold as 10 degrees while “on their feet in bent positions for long periods of time,” according to the job posting, which was first reported by BuzzFeed News. The job could run through late October.

The Trump family is no stranger to the federal government’s foreign guest worker programs, which allow companies to import workers temporarily from overseas. President Trump won approval to hire 77 foreign workers at his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort and Jupiter golf course this past December — just weeks before entering the White House. In the last 15 years, the Trump family’s various businesses received approval to hire at least 1,256 foreign workers, CNN reported in July.

Trump faced intense criticism as a candidate for his history of using low-paid foreign labor, as some observed that the practice didn’t jibe with his harsh views toward immigrants and his “America First” vision. As president, Trump has continued to escalate his U.S.-centric rhetoric and has hammered companies that move jobs out of the country.

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“We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American,” Trump thundered during his inaugural address last month.

Neither the White House nor Trump Winery responded to a request for comment. Critics, however, offered a few choice words. “With Trump, hypocrisy know no bounds,” Congressman Raul Grijalva, a Democrat from Arizona, told BuzzFeed News.

More than 100,000 foreigner workers are brought into the U.S. under the H-2 program each year, labor statistics show. The program allows American employers to temporarily hire foreign labor as long as no qualified U.S. workers want the jobs. As of December, there were more than 700 unemployed people looking for work in Charlottesville, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In neighboring Greene and Madison counties, there were 294 and 198 unemployed workers, respectively.