H-2A Myths Pt 1

H-2A Myths Pt 1

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
From the Ag Information Network, this is today’s Fruit Grower Report. The H-2A guestworker visa program, contrary to the belief of some, does not take jobs from local workers.

The Washington Policy Center’s Ag Director, Pam Lewison says another common myth is that the H-2A program brings wages down …

LEWISON … “Now, if you know anything about the H-2A program, it is intended to be cost-prohibitive on purpose. And part of the cost-prohibitive nature is the Adverse Effect Wage Rate which is effectively the minimum wage that you can pay an H-2A worker.”

And this year in Washington state, Lewison says that wage is $19.25 per hour …

LEWISON … “That is the LEAST amount of money that you can pay not only an H-2A worker but any local employee working alongside that H-2A workers doing the same job.”

But in the field, Lewison says the wages seem to get pushed even higher …

LEWISON … “So, while we have an anecdotal wage of about $23.50, what is causing that wage to increase so far is that minimum threshold of the $19.25 because no one is going to show up for the state minimum wage of $16 if they can go somewhere else and earn $3 more just because there is someone there who has a visa.”

Lewison says what we’ve seen in agriculture is wages are artificially increased significantly rather than being depressed as some recent legislation suggests.

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