H2A Reform Could Mean More Imports
A reform of the H2A foreign worker program is now hitting the ground. Last week I spoke with Michael Marsh, CEO of the National Council of Agricultural Employers…
“One of the issues that we’ve got, Haylie, is that the rulemaking that right now we’re litigating against and, actually, my executive committee agreed yesterday afternoon to bring a second case against the Department of Labor on their new adverse effect wage rate rule in the H2A program.”
The rule, published in the Federal Register at the end of February, abandons changes to the wage methodology sought by the Trump administration that were seen as a win by employers hoping to hold down increasing costs of worker pay.
“If you’re a grower in California, and you’re using the H2A program, in order to the use the program you’ve got to pay the adverse effect wage rate – well it’s typically the adverse effect rate – and you have to pay to recruit the workers. You’ve got to pay their transportation in and out of the country. You’ve got to house them while they’re here. And then you have to provide them with three meals a day or convenient cooking facilities so they can cook their own. So when you look at California’s wage rate of $18.65 and you add in another six dollars or so for transportation, the meals, the housing, etc, you’re at almost $25 an hour.”
As a consequence, Marsh says we’re seeing more and more strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries coming into the U.S. out of Mexico.