Search Site   
Current News Stories
Latest group of FFA National Teacher Ambassadors announced
Cicadas will begin chanting soon
The nuthatch is the ‘Crown Prince’ of the birdfeeder
Few replacement cows are out there; herds are not growing
Local food cafe is just one highlight of OEFFA Farm Tour
UK, Purdue University collaborate to expand maple syrup production
Michigan Wheat Program Summer Field Day is June 25
Curtain closing on long-time farm supply store
Farmers love their land and care for it as they would family
Freije Auctioneers win at WAAC 2024
The American certified organic marketplace sales hit $69.7B
News Articles
Search News  
Temp farmworkers get more protections
SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Temporary farmworkers will have more legal protections against employer retaliation, unsafe working conditions, illegal recruitment practices and other abuses under a Labor Department rule announced April 26.
Each year about 300,000 immigrants, mostly from Mexico, take seasonal jobs on U.S. farms. The new rule, which takes effect June 28, will target abuses experienced by workers under the H-2A program that undermine fair labor standards for all farmworkers.
Labor Secretary Julie Su said the rule aims to “breathe life” into existing worker protections.
“Our rule is meant to give H2-A workers more ability to advocate for themselves, to speak up when they experience labor law abuses,” Su said at a vineyard in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco.
The Biden administration announced a proposal for the new rule in September, saying it would boost safety requirements on farms and raise transparency around how such workers are recruited, in order to combat human trafficking.
The Labor Department is already required to ensure that the H-2A program doesn’t undercut the wages or working conditions of Americans who take similar jobs. Employers are required to pay minimum U.S. wages or higher, depending on the region. They are also required to provide their temporary workers with housing and transportation.
Reports of overcrowded farm vehicles and fatalities have increased as the number of guest farmworkers has risen, officials say. Transportation accidents are a leading cause of death for farmworkers.
The new rule will require farmers who employ H-2A workers to make sure the vans and buses they use to transport workers long distances — and that are often driven by tired workers — have seatbelts for all passengers.
The new rule also protects temporary agricultural workers from employer retaliation if they meet with legal service providers or union representatives at the housing provided by the employer. It also protects them from retaliation when they decline to attend “captive audience” meetings organized by their employer.
And in a step intended to counter human trafficking, employers would be required to identify anyone recruiting workers on their behalf in the U.S. or foreign countries and to provide copies of any agreements they have with those recruiters.
The proposal drew nearly 13,000 public comments, including some from industry groups that said new regulatory requirements were excessive. Ted Sester, who owns a wholesale nursery in Gresham, Oregon, said it was “full of heavy-handed enforcement and regulatory overreach.”
Labor advocates strongly applauded the rule.
“Agricultural guest workers are some of the most vulnerable workers in America, but this rule will empower H-2A workers to stand up to some of the biggest challenges they face,” the Congressional Labor Caucus, made up of about 100 pro-union members of Congress, said.