CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - A Virginia winery owned by President Donald Trump’s son has applied to hire foreign workers to pick grapes after the company was unable to find U.S. citizens who want the job.
Trump Vineyard Estates, better known as Trump Winery, has asked to bring in 29 workers this season through the federal H-2A visa program, The Daily Progress reported.
The Charlottesville-area winery is owned by Eric Trump, whose father has called on businesses to hire Americans.
The H-2A program enables agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or other temporary or seasonal services. To apply, employers say they’ve been unable to find American citizens to fill the jobs. At least three other local vineyards also applied to hire foreign workers.
“It’s difficult to find people,” said Libby Whitley, an attorney who has worked with employers, including Trump Winery.
Trump Vineyard Estates had initially applied for six foreign workers in December. Two months later, the company applied for 23 more. Both job orders for Trump Vineyard Estates say the primary tasks include planting and cultivating vines, adding grow tubes and pruning grape vines.
H-2A workers and U.S. workers in corresponding employment must be paid a certain rate -- $10.72 an hour for vineyard farm workers in Virginia this year.
Whitely said she assumed her company would be flooded with people applying for the jobs because of all the media coverage Trump Winery has received for using the H-2A program.
“Guess how many applicants we had? ... 13,” she said. “And they were all from places like the Philippines, Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria. We did not have one American worker apply on [the first job order].”
Several people have sent emails to show they’re outraged that Trump Winery is hiring foreigners, Whitley said.
“I qualify every one of those responses, and I say, ‘Are you interested in the job? If you are, please get in touch with us immediately,’” Whitley said.
Trump Winery didn’t respond to a request for comment.