Actions Against H-2A Wage Rule

Josh McGillLabor, Legal, Legislative

Federal legislators have followed through on previously announced plans to try to overturn the Department of Labor’s (DOL) rule to determine wages for temporary foreign agricultural workers under the H-2A program. H-2A workers harvest a majority of Florida’s citrus crop.

Photo by Ekaterina Bolovtsova

Legislators introduced House and Senate Congressional Review Act resolutions to nullify the DOL’s adverse effect wage rates (AEWRs) methodology rule. The action was taken by U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman, House Agriculture Committee Chairman G.T. Thompson and U.S. Senators Tim Scott and Ted Budd. It was in reaction to the DOL, which in late February published the final rule regarding the methodology used to determine the AEWRs. The rule became effective March 30.

Additionally, the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) and other agricultural organizations filed a motion for preliminary injunction against the AEWR regulation. The lawsuit alleges that the secretary of labor’s action in developing the regulation is an abuse of the secretary’s discretion. The legal challenge is being brought in the federal district court in Tampa. Joining the FFVA as plaintiffs are Florida Citrus Mutual, Florida Growers Association, Franberry Farms, LLC and the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE).

“This new DOL wage increase comes at a particularly bad time for Florida agriculture, already dealing with citrus greening, the increased cost of seed, fertilizer, packaging and transportation, and unfair trade agreements that have led to a surge in volume of cheap produce from foreign countries,” stated FFVA President Mike Joyner. “This rule could be the tipping point and force some of our members out of business.”

“Not only does the rule continue to misuse the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Labor Survey to establish wage rates, but it also piles on farm and ranch families by requiring nonfarm wages drawn from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics for simple, routine, on-farm activities — jobs which have been performed on American farms and ranches for generations,” noted Michael Marsh, president and chief executive officer of NCAE. “Some farmworker wages will more than double under this new rule, forcing family operations out of business.”

Source: FFVA

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