Sunday, November 4, 2007
FARMWORKER JUSTICE AGJOBS UPDATE
Senator Dianne Feinstein informed AgJOBS supporters today that she and other Senators will continue to seek an opportunity for a vote on AgJOBS and will monitor the Farm Bill debate and other developments to determine how best to enact AgJOBS. Several key Senators expressed concern about adding AgJOBS, an immigration issue, to an already contentious debate about the Farm Bill. She does not want to move forward to a vote on AgJOBS in the Farm Bill setting only to receive a bad result because Senators oppose adding it to a particular bill.
AgJOBS has a lot of support; many of you deserve credit for this fact. We believe that in the appropriate setting, with additional advocacy, it will gain the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster.
Sen. Feinstein informed Congressional leaders that she will not permit legislation to move forward with changes to the H-1B (so-called high-tech) guestworker visa program or the H-2B non-agricultural guestworker program without the opportunity to vote on AgJOBS.
Sen. Feinstein should be commended for her continued, vigorous work on AgJOBS. We also appreciate the strenuous efforts of Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Craig. The “strange bedfellows” coalition of employers and farmworker advocates continues to seek passage of AgJOBS.
We have learned that opponents of AgJOBS are planning to submit legislation to change the H-2A agricultural guestworker program and/or create another substitute for AgJOBS with a guestworker-only approach. We will need to oppose any such legislative efforts and continue to offer AgJOBS as the reasonable, practical, bipartisan, labor-management compromise.
In addition, the Bush Administration is planning to propose changes to the H-2A regulations to lower the wage rates, reduce government oversight and eliminate labor protections. We all need to be vigilant and oppose one-sided, anti-worker changes.
We are working with the United Farm Workers to continue this battle for justice for farmworkers. This week the UFW again brought farmworkers to Capitol Hill to visit members of Congress; they are inspirational and effective.
We have not included an action alert in this memo because we do not yet know when AgJOBS will be brought up again. To those of you who have not yet asked your Senators to support AgJOBS, we encourage you to do so. The anti-immigrant groups are busy sending messages opposing AgJOBS. Talking points, summaries of AgJOBS and other information is available on our website, www.farmworkerjustice.org, or http://www.farmworkerjustice.org/Immigration_Labor/AgJOBS_Info.htm, and at the website of the United Farm Workers, www.ufw.org.
Thank you very much for all your work and support. We will keep you informed.
1126 16th St., N.W., Suite 270
Washington, D.C. 20036
202-293-5420 ext. 304