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“It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.”

— George Herman Ruth

NCAE News, Legal/Technical & Other Employer Issues:

A west coast federal appeals court just opened the door for H-2A employers to enforce arbitration agreements in employment disputes even outside the context of a collective bargaining agreement.

For more than a quarter-century, Richard Strong worked the fertile farmland of the Mississippi Delta, just as his father and his grandfather did, a family lineage of punishing labor and meager earnings that stretched back to his enslaved ancestors brought from Africa.

Regulatory Actions:

An OSHA vaccine mandate impacting more than 84 million workers is now set to take effect on Jan. 4, 2022.

The US added six nations to a list of more than 80 countries in which citizens can receive temporary agricultural and non-agricultural work visas, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Tuesday.

Haitians are once more eligible for temporary, seasonal work in the United States under two federal guest-worker programs, three years after being kicked out by the Trump Administration. 

Office of Foreign Labor Certification publishes FY 2021 H-2A data.

Farmers and politicians gathered at Rulfs Orchard Tuesday morning to advocate for maintaining the 60-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers and voice concerns about how lowering it could make New York’s producers less competitive in both the labor and commodities markets.

Colorado officially adopted new overtime rules for agricultural workers on Thursday.

Legislative Actions:

Last week, U.S. Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla.., brought out the “Keep Food Local and Affordable Act” which, he insists, will “combat the recent rise in food prices experienced across the country due to historic labor shortages and inflation” and “would implement a temporary stay on the H-2A Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR) for states struggling to find domestic workers to help stabilize U.S. food prices and ensure food production stays in the U.S.”

H-2 and Other Worker Status Issues:

With American farmers increasingly relying on foreign agricultural laborers, the Labor Department approved 317,619 seasonal guestworkers during the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, up 15% from a year earlier, a farmworker advocacy group said on Tuesday.

Safety:

If demography really was COVID destiny, then Gonzales — a small, working-class town with a young, Latino population in rural California — would be a pandemic disaster.

Farmworkers from all over the High Country lined up at Watauga County Agriculture Extension for their COVID-19 booster shot on Nov. 4.

The Governor’s office has objected to a recent op-ed published in The Seattle Times that cited Washington State Department of Health (DOH) COVID data noting that “that about 95% of foreign farmworkers were vaccinated this year and none died of COVID.”

Immigration Reform:

Hundreds of thousands of undocumented farmworkers could gain employment and travel authorization under provisions in the social welfare and climate change bill drafted by House Democrats. 

Farmers grow, harvest, and pack nearly 400 million mushrooms a year in this small Pennsylvania town.

NCAE This Week:

The House and Senate were out this week.

 

We still have no word from the Senate Parliamentarian as to whether the “Plan C” efforts to include immigration reform in the Budget Reconciliation Bill will pass muster.  These iterative efforts seem to have temporarily chilled energy in the US Senate for a bipartisan effort in that chamber to advance ag labor reform.  Whether or not “Plan C” gains more traction than the first two efforts may appear doubtful.

 

NCAE is planning a broad effort commenting on a proposed heat regulation for agricultural employers once a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) comes out of OSHA.  Members wishing to share their thoughts will be encouraged to do so in order for us to make a solid case in that effort.

 

Preparations continue for what will be a terrific event at the beautiful M Resort outside Las Vegas.  This year will mark the return of the Ag Labor Forum to that venue and the room block and its original expansions were sold out three times.  Registration is still open and rooms are still available at the Resort, albeit not at the NCAE discounted rate due to exceptional demand.  There is still time to register and attend the Forum!

 

Have a great weekend!

 

Michael

News articles and citations of interest for week ending 2021/11/12

A dozen farm workers at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, New York, successfully formed the first union of farm workers in the state with RWDSU/UFCW Local 338 when the New York State Public Employees Relations Board certified their union on Sept. 27. 

Santa Maria City Council members and staff who created and implemented a now-repealed local H-2A housing ordinance recently participated in fair housing training as required by federal housing officials.

Pennsylvania’s $1.2 billion mushroom industry is steadily working to overcome obstacles to its supply chain and labor shortages.

Living with complete strangers in overcrowded dwellings, living out of cars, or subletting garages and backyard sheds: these are the conditions where countless farmworker families dwell in California.

 

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