Mar-a-Lago only briefly seeks out U.S. work­ers

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By David A. Fahren­thold and Lori Rozsa

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s Mar-aLago Club needs to hire 35 wait­ers for this win­ter’s so­cial sea­son in Palm Beach, Fla.

Late last month, the club placed an ad on Page C8 of the Palm Beach Post, crammed full of tiny print lay­ing out the job ex­pe­ri­ence re­quire­ments in clas­si­fied ad short­hand. “3 mos re­cent & ver­i­fi­able exp in fine din­ing/coun­try club,” the ad said. “No tips.”

The ad gave no email ad­dress or phone num­ber. “Ap­ply by fax,” it said. The ad also pro­vided a mail­ing ad­dress. It ran twice, then never again.

This was an un­der­whelm­ing way to at­tract lo­cal job-seek­ers. But that wasn’t the point. The ads were ac­tu­ally part of Mar-a-Lago’s ef­forts to hire for­eign work­ers for those 35 jobs.

About a week be­fore the ads ran, the pres­i­dent’s club asked the La­bor Depart­ment for per­mis­sion to hire 70 tem­po­rary work­ers from over­seas, gov­ern­ment records show. Be­side the 35 wait­ers, it asked for 20 cooks and 15 house­keep­ers, slightly more than it hired last year.

To get visas for those work­ers, Mara-Lago, like other busi­nesses that rely on tem­po­rary em­ploy­ees each year, must first take legally man­dated steps to look for U.S. work­ers. That in­cludes plac­ing two ads in a news­pa­per.

Typ­i­cally, this at­tempt to re­cruit U.S. work­ers is a rit­u­al­ized fail­ure. Its out­come is usu­ally a con­clu­sion that there are no qual­i­fied Amer­i­cans to hire, jus­ti­fy­ing the need for the gov­ern­ment to is­sue the visas.

In the past few days, that rit­ual be­gan again at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s mem­bers-only club that opens ev­ery win­ter and has be­come a fre­quent des­ti­na­tion for the pres­i­dent.

The club’s re­quest for visas stood out be­cause it came in the mid­dle of “Made in Amer­ica Week” at the White House. Even as Trump urged other U.S. busi­nesses to “hire Amer­i­can,” his busi­ness was gath­er­ing ev­i­dence to prove that it couldn’t.

Of­fi­cials at Mar-a-Lago and at the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion did not re­spond to ques­tions for this ar­ti­cle. Nei­ther did a White House spokes­woman.

Dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Trump de­fended his prac­tice of us­ing for­eign work­ers at his club — even as he blamed im­mi­grants for tak­ing Amer­i­can jobs and keep­ing wages low for na­tive-born work­ers.

“It’s very, very hard to get peo­ple. But other ho­tels do the exact same thing . ... This is a pro­ce­dure. It’s part of the law,” he said dur­ing a Repub­li­can can­di­dates de­bate in March 2016. “I take ad­van­tage of that. There’s noth­ing wrong with it. We have no choice.”

The cat­e­gory of visas re­quested by Mar-a-Lago is called H-2B, and the visas are in­tended for work­ers do­ing tem­po­rary jobs in nona­gri­cul­tural fields.

Mar-a-Lago has re­lied on for­eign work­ers since at least 2008, ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments.

Trump has re­signed from lead­er­ship po­si­tions at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion busi­nesses. But he still owns them. And he has treated Mar-a-Lago as a sec­ond home.

In deter­min­ing Mar-a-Lago’s visa ap­pli­ca­tions, La­bor Depart­ment spokesman Egan Re­ich said the pres­i­dent’s busi­ness would be treated like any other.

This week, there is a jobs fair in Palm Beach, where big re­sorts can meet prospec­tive em­ploy­ees in per­son. At The Wash­ing­ton Post’s re­quest, a job-place­ment cen­ter em­ployee checked the list of at­ten­dees.

Mar-a-Lago isn’t go­ing.

Jabin Botsford, The Wash­ing­ton Post

A worker walks along a road at the Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2016.

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