4. The H-2A Program is Unduly Burdensome, Unreliable, Costly and Prone to Delay There is no question that the H-2A program imposes compliance obligations that are more burdensome than at-will employment. Most employers who use the program do find it to be burdensome, but not necessarily unduly burdensome. And it does get easier to manage with each season. For many years, H-2A applications were submitted by paper and overnighted to DOL. Communications between the agency and the employer were by snail mail. Employers had to post advertisements of H-2A job openings in several newspapers. DOL lacked sufficient staff to timely process applications or resolve issues. Petitions filed with USCIS took weeks to be approved. That all changed several years ago. Now applications are submitted electronically. Communication with DOL is conducted via email and it is typically fast and responsive. There is no longer a requirement to post newspaper ads. DOL generally has the staff to process H-2A applications quickly and USCIS typically approves H-2A petitions within a few days. To ensure that applications get approved quickly and workers arrive timely, it is a best practice to file at the earliest time available—generally 75 days before the requested start date. Now, the only sure way to get a reliable source of labor is through the H-2A program. With H-2A, you are sure to get agricultural workers who will arrive at the start of the season, work each day offered throughout the season, and work until the end of the contract period. By bringing in the same workers year after year, employers report ever-increasing efficiencies and greater productivity. Does the H-2A program cost more than using domestic workers? Yes, if you can get domestic workers. H-2A workers must be paid a minimum wage—typically the adverse effect wage rate—which is $17.51/hour in California, $14.79/hour in Arizona and $15.58/ hour in Colorado, all higher than the state minimum wage in those states. If you pay on a piece rate and workers earn at least the AEWR anyway, then you’re paying no more in H-2A wages than you would pay otherwise. The biggest expense is housing, which must be provided at no charge to the worker.

In addition, H-2A employers must pay the cost of inbound and outbound transportation and subsistence for inbound/outbound travel, visa costs, certification and petition fees, among other costs. Using H-2A definitely costs more than using only domestic labor. But the cost of not having reliable labor and not being able to harvest the crop may be greater. 5. Western Growers Does Not Provide H-2A Services False! Western Growers has offered H-2A Services exclusively to Western Growers members for the past 16 years! During that time the number of H-2A applications and petitions Western Growers H-2A Services has filed on behalf of members has grown each year. In FY 2021, Western Growers H-2A Services successfully filed over 100 H-2A applications and certified nearly 6,000 workers. That number is trending considerably higher in 2022. Western Growers H-2A Services is managed by me. I oversee every application and the professional staff that work on H-2A applications 52 weeks a year. We file applications for Western Growers members in California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico. We work with a certified ethical recruiter and facilitator in Mexico to ensure that our members do not encounter illegal recruiting issues.

Why should Western Growers members use Western Growers H-2A Services? 1. We are subject matter experts who work exclusively on H-2A every day. We file early and often to ensure our applications are promptly approved so our members get their H-2A workers when they need them. 2. Compliance training and resources are included in our services so that members understand their obligations under the H-2A program and don’t run into surprises. 3. We are member owned. Just like all WG services, the profits that come from H-2A Services are invested back into Western Growers Association to pay for the legislative, legal and regulatory advocacy work and other free services that the Association provides its members. When you use Western Growers H-2A Services, you are helping to make the Association stronger and more effective on behalf of the industry. To learn more about the H-2A program and Western Growers H-2A Services, please contact Jason Resnick (jresnick@wga.com) at 949-885-2253.



Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online