Igloo is best known for keeping your drinks and snacks while camping or tailgating ice cold. Who knew their hiring practices were that cold, too? Federal prosecutors struck a deal with Igloo for the hiring practices they observed in an investigation from July 1, 2019, to September 10, 2019. During this time, Igloo was hiring H-2B foreign visa workers over qualified Americans.
This practice is highly illegal and is something the DOJ has been prosecuting firmly. Kristen Clarke, of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, released a statement that, in part, says “Employers cannot favor workers on temporary visas and ignore applications from qualified U.S. workers because of assumptions based on citizenship or immigration status.” Given the fact that the program permits businesses to import 66,000 H-2B workers a year, the fact that Igloo felt it necessary to circumvent this already high number is insane.
Igloo is being ordered to pay $21,000 in civil penalties to the federal government, as well as $40,000 in back pay to the very Americans they passed over for the manufacturing jobs. For the next three years, the DOJ will also closely monitor their hiring practices to ensure they are seeking out Americans first.
The 66,000 imported workers are for blue-collar, non-agricultural work. Under Trump and now under Biden as well, additional workers have been allowed to be brought into the country and hired. While a great pathway for workers to earn money to send home, and to get a taste of the American dream, it has also kept certain wages down. Landscaping, conservation, meatpacking, construction, and fishing jobs have all had their wages kept low due to this program according to the Center for Immigration Studies. Overall 21 of 25 industries studied offer lower wages to immigrants than to Americans; thus keeping the costs down.
With the economy already in the tank, who knows how many other workers Igloo has used or ran through during or since that period of investigation. While Americans love seeing lower prices, the ‘Made in America’ logo loses a lot of its meaning when it turns out that the product is being made in American factories, but by immigrants at a substantially lower price. For years, Igloo was synonymous with the American working man and the American dream.
Now, Igloo finds itself in perilous waters. While the road is cleared for the American worker to take these jobs and not worry about losing an opportunity to H-2B visa workers, who’s to say it will stay that way when the three years are up, or that they won’t find excuses to keep terminating Americans to use the program more?
More to the point, with alternatives like RTIC, YETI, Coleman, and American Standard out there, why trust Igloo? Their equipment has been less than ideal over the last few years and shows no real signs of improvement in terms of quality or quantity based on consumer reviews. With the loss of their immigrant workforce, both are sure to get significantly worse.
Coolers may not seem like a big deal to get upset about immigrants taking factory jobs (especially since the government allows for this program), but prioritizing them over Americans to keep production costs low while charging the same or more for their products is criminal. Given how widely these coolers are used across America and how much people depend on them to get through a project, it is a huge deal. From tailgating to road construction to the military doing field exercises to backstage at a festival to smoking meats at a BBQ, everyone uses coolers for one need or another across this great country. Igloo needs to honor that and prioritize American workers.