Farmworker Protection Rule

Lawsuit Challenges Farmworker Protection Rule

Daniel CooperLabor, Legal, Regulation

Farmworker Protection Rule

A coalition of states, including Florida and Georgia, recently joined a lawsuit filed by the Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) challenging the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Farmworker Protection Rule. DOL announced the final rule in late April, saying it would strengthen protections for farmworkers in the H-2A program. The Farmworker Protection Rule will become effective June 28, 2024.

SLF is representing Miles Berry Farm and the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit is challenging the DOL’s requirement that will force agricultural employers to allow temporary foreign farmworkers to unionize. SLF called that requirement an unlawful and unprecedented move that will impose significant costs on employers while giving more rights to foreign farmworkers than American farmworkers.

SLF stated that during the New Deal, Congress gave some employees the right to form labor unions through the National Labor Relations Act. “But it explicitly excluded farmworkers from the right to form unions and has continued to do so for nearly 90 years,” SLF added.

“Making a living off the land is hard enough these days without the Department of Labor granting a right to foreign workers that is denied to Americans,” said Braden Boucek, vice president of litigation for SLF.

“This drastic measure by the Department of Labor will be devastating for the agricultural industry, not just in Georgia but across the nation,” said Chris Butts, executive vice president for GFVGA. “Our members’ farms and employees will suffer because they cannot afford to meet this program’s unreasonable and unlawful demands. We must level the playing field for producers instead of continuing to stack the deck against them.”

According to GFVGA, the new DOL rule will continue to make the H-2A program prohibitively expensive, exceeds authority granted to DOL and adds more complex regulations.

Sources: SLF and GFVGA

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