On behalf of the 60 affiliated unions of the AFL-CIO, I write to urge you to oppose S.J. Res. 25, which would overturn rulemaking issued by the Department of Labor to protect wages in the H-2A guestworker visa program.
The more reliant our nation becomes on the H-2A program to support our food chain, the greater the imperative should be to ensure that workers within the program, and those who work alongside them, are treated and paid fairly. The H-2A program has mushroomed in size in recent years, and as it grows, so too must the safeguards for worker rights and labor standards.
Workers with all types of status in a range of sectors have a clear stake in ensuring that the H-2A program is regulated effectively. The bigger the program gets, the stronger the spillover impact will be on standards throughout the agricultural industry, as well as in adjacent industries in our food chain such as construction, processing and transportation.
To prevent chronic abuses, it is critical that we strengthen the role of the Department of Labor in our work visa programs. The rule in question makes modest technical adjustments to the process for calculating base wages for specialized H-2A occupations that command higher wages than field and livestock positions. Undercutting DOL’s efforts to use the best available data to inform program rules and oversight, would betray Congress’ obligation to protect both U.S. and migrant workers in affected industries.
We urge you to vote NO on this CRA and focus attention where it should be – on raising wages, improving our migration pathways and ensuring all workers, regardless of status, have equal and enforceable rights on the job.
William Samuel, Director