Sunday, September 22, 2019
There is a new rule proposed by the Trump administration that would make it easier for agricultural employers to replace Americans with H-2A foreign workers. Please go to this regulation on the regulations.gov site and make a comment telling Trump to nix the law and govern by the principles on which he ran. Note: comments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on Tuesday September 24 Eastern Standard Time. After this, the commenting period closes. The proposed rule is posted with the link. An explanation of why this rule would be bad (for those of you who do not have time to read and interpret multi-hundred-page regulations) is found here (yes, it's a liberal site, but I tend to think that unions and labor leaders are probably in the right on this particular issue). Here is what I posted, feel free to post this, with perhaps a few changes so you don't look like some sort of bot (also, giving contact information will likely make it more clear that you are a person posting this): I am opposed to the Proposed Rule “Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Nonimmigrants in the United States” (Federal Register 2019-15307). This rule would work directly against the immigration principles on which this administration ran. In addition, with labor force participation for the past six years never once reaching the levels it was at between September 1978 and August 2013, any labor shortage clearly implies that businesses are not doing enough to coax Americans to take jobs rather than there not being enough Americans to take them. It would make it more difficult for domestic farm workers to take a job held by a guestworker, by reducing the period for such from halfway through the job to 30 days into the job. This would tend to belie the claim that we need H-2A visas because of a shortage of American workers, if we are making it harder for American workers to claim the jobs. Allowing employers to use one H-2A application for multiple seasonal jobs starting at different times of years would make it easier to avoid recruiting domestic workers. In addition, the ability to string together a series of unrelated jobs and the ability to make major changes in job terms also discourages domestic workers from applying. Allowing employers to avoid paying for long-distance transportation costs by shifting the cost to workers would allow employers to reduce the cost of hiring foreign workers, not only creating hardships for foreign workers, but further reducing the costs to employers of hiring foreign labor over domestic, which will incentive businesses not to hire Americans. Allowing businesses to self-inspect the quality of the housing given to migrant workers is an invitation to abuse. The new methods of calculating prevailing wages would likely result in reduced wages. This again would provide incentives for businesses to keep wages low and to claim that no American will take a job when in reality the businesses are just not offering adequate pay. If anything, the wages that businesses should be required to pay under the H-2A program should be raised significantly, so that businesses cannot use foreign labor as a tool to keep wages low. Expanding the categories of employees who are included in the H-2A program to include reforestation and pine straw employees would increase the competition that American workers face for jobs. In addition, it would take more workers out of the protection of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, making it easier for employers to mistreat or cheat them, and again providing another incentive to hire foreign workers over domestic ones. If this administration intends to live up to the pledges on which it was elected, it should withdraw this planned regulation and instead offer regulations that would require employers who wish to use H-2A visas to pay higher wages and to be more heavily regulated, and to use whatever means are possible within the law to protect all workers from exploitation. That is all.