New H-2A Rule Makes Progress on Worker Protections, But Further Reforms Needed

Farmworkers thin apples on trees in a Washington State apple orchard. Alberto Rodriguez is the foreman of the crew Copyright David Bacon

On October 12, 2022, the US Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule amending the regulations of the H-2A temporary agricultural work visa program (the “2022 H-2A Rule”). Farmworker Justice welcomes the 2022 H-2A Rule’s limited improvements to worker protections and the standards that prospective H-2A employers must meet to obtain DOL certification. The impact of other changes, such as a new methodology for critically important prevailing wage determinations, remains unclear.

What is clear is that this rule does not go far enough to make the structural reforms that are necessary to confront the widespread abuse of US and foreign farmworkers in the H-2A program. The H-2A visa puts a worker’s legal status under the control of their employer, creating a power imbalance that too often results in exploitation and violation of workers’ rights. These workers need more than limited technical changes to achieve a truly safe and fair workplace[…]

Read Farmworker Justice’s fact sheets to learn more:

Fact Sheet: Proposed H-2A Wage Legislation Would Unfairly Cut Farmworker Pay

  • Farmworker Justice strongly opposes the misleadingly-named “Keep Food Local and Affordable
    Act of 2021” (S.3134 and H.R.5887), which was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tillis (R-NC),
    Boozman (R-AR), Cruz (R-TX) and Cornyn (R-TX) and in the House by Rep. Steube (R-FL).
    The bill would require the Department of Labor to freeze the required wage rates for the H-2A
    temporary agricultural worker visa program at 2021 levels in the majority of states. As
    farmworker wages have been rising, this would essentially lower the wage that H-2A and
    corresponding U.S. workers can expect to earn in 2022. Farmworkers – whose jobs are already
    among the lowest paid in the country – do not deserve a pay cut.