Holiday Barrel Tasting Event & H-2A Guest Worker Reimbursement Requirement
I'm Lacy Gray with Washington Ag Today.
This weekend, December 6 through the 8th, Walla Walla Valley will be hosting the annual Holiday Barrel Tasting event. Each winery in the Valley will be participating in their own unique way offering up art, music, local foods samplings, and of course wine tasting of newly released and yet to be released wines straight from the barrel. For more information and an event calendar visit wallawallawine.com.
Washington Farm Labor Association's Dan Fazio says that producers received some unsettling news last week just in time for the holiday.
FAZIO: We got a little bad news from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court seems to be requiring employers to reimburse travel expenses for workers with the first pay check, in other words in-bound travel expenses that the workers have the employers have to reimburse that, even though the regulation states that travel expenses do not need to be reimbursed until the worker completes 50 percent of the work contract.
Fazio admitted this wasn't a huge surprise to growers, but it is still frustrating for farmers who are genuinely trying to embrace the guest worker program and do the right thing.
FAZIO: Really it's not going to be a big impact because the agency had already told us that they wanted us to reimburse those expenses as soon as the workers got off the bus really, but it just is symptomatic of a government that's hostile to employers who are struggling to get that legal and stable workforce. The employers are spending a lot of money to try and use this H-2A program and the H-2A regulation states that employers can wait until the worker completes 50 percent of the contract to reimburse that in-bound travel. It's kind of an incentive for the worker to stick around. We're kind of frustrated with an administration that continues to make it harder for employers to use the legal program to hire workers, than to use the alternative.
That's Washington Ag Today.
I'm Lacy Gray on the Ag Information Network.