Hiring Foreign Farmworkers to Get Tougher Under New Rule

Growers Must Try Harder to Find Americans to Fill the Temporary and Seasonal Harvest Jobs, Starting Next Month

L.A. Times Article Published February 11, 2010 By P.J. Huffstutter "In a move that is sure to have the agriculture industry grimacing and labor-rights advocates cheering, the Labor Department is reversing a Bush administration rule that allowed farmers an easier path to hiring temporary or seasonal foreign workers. The department has issued new regulations that will require growers to take more steps to try to find Americans to fill jobs picking crops and other harvest-time roles, as well as increase pay and provide more job-safety protections for the thousands of foreign farmworkers they do hire.

The old rule, which affected the H-2A guest-worker program, was adopted shortly before President George W. Bush left office. The Labor Department suspended that regulation in May.

The new rule, slated to take effect March 15, will increase the average pay for temporary farmworkers by nearly a dollar per hour. Farmers also will be required to list their job openings on a new online job registry, and state workforce agencies must inspect worker housing before employers can get the nod to hire foreign laborers.

Department officials said Thursday that the changes were designed to protect the agriculture industry’s most at-risk workers.”

To read the full article, go to: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/feb/11/business/la-fi-guest-worker12-2010feb12

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