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Bob Larson Fee Hikes for H-2A Pt 2
by Bob Larson, click here for bio

Program: Fruit Grower Report
Date: February 04, 2019

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With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. Yesterday, we learned about the bills proposing to charge farm employers more to hire H-2A visa workers in order to cover a budget shortfall for a federal program.

The Washington Policy Center’s Pam Lewison says asking for state funds to cover a federal program doesn’t make sense …

LEWISON … “The problems come into that when we’re asking farmers in Washington state to make up a shortfall that they didn’t create.”

She says the state is asking farmers to pay more when they’re already hard-pressed to find workers? …

LEWISON … “Yeah, we want you to pay more for it when you find it, if you can find it, and on top of it the required minimum wage in Washington state for H-2A workers was set for this fiscal year as $15.03 per hour. That make H-2A workers in Washington state the highest paid in the United States.”

So, workers are already making above minimum wage …

LEWISON … “Well, then there’s a piece-rate incentive that falls into that wage structure as well. So, you have the option, if you enter into a piece rate wage situation, you have the potential to make as much money as you can effectively pick a crop of.”

And, Lewison says it all happened too quickly for most farmers to react …

LEWISON … “The hearing for the House bill occurred two days after this legislation was filed. So, unless you were really paying attention you didn’t necessarily have the option to drop everything and run over to Olympia and say, hey this is a bad idea.”

We’ll have more on these cost-raising H-2A bills tomorrow.

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