Thursday, December 11, 2008
New Farmworker Rules Will Deteriorate Conditions Even Further
From the Immigration Policy Center:
Midnight Changes to H-2A Guestworker Program Hurt All Workers
Washington D.C.-The Bush Administration has finalized and is about to publish yet another set of last minute far-reaching regulations, this time dealing with the H-2A guestworker program. Farmwork is already among the most poorly-paid and most dangerous of all work in the U.S. While the H-2A program does currently provide some wage guarantees and protections for foreign workers, the new rules will allow growers to replace U.S. farmworkers with "cheaper" guestworkers. For years there have been attempts to improve the conditions of farmworkers. However, the new rules would set the bar even lower -- by dropping requirements that growers recruit U.S. workers, lowering wage rates, reducing requirements that employers provide housing, and eliminating government oversight -- harming both U.S. and foreign farmworkers.
"Harsh, harmful and hasty. The Grinch has come early this year as the Bush Administration snatches the most meager of protections from the most vulnerable of workers. Such a plan is not immigration reform or economic stimulus. These actions will weaken labor and living standards of workers already doing some of the hardest and most important work-putting food on our tables" said Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center. "The Administration should not move forward with these rules and instead signal support for the passage of effective comprehensive immigration reform that improves wages and working conditions for all workers early in the 111th Congress."
Given the current state of our economy and immigration system, we must look for ways to help workers and lift standards for all and these rules will do just the opposite. We need comprehensive, fair and workable solutions to our immigration system and economic situation, not piecemeal, midnight decisions that harm workers.
For more information on the issue visit Farmworker Justice online and read their report Litany of Abuses.