New Rules Strengthen Worker Protections within the H-2B Visa Program, Yet May Drive Down Wages

May 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
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Press release from  Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.  and   Migrant Defense Committee

(see below for espanol)

On April 29th, 2015, the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL) and Homeland Security (DHS) published two new rules in the H-2B visa program that establish groundbreaking protections for transnational migrants and U.S. workers alike. The new rulemaking is in response to a court’s decision that cast uncertainty on the program’s future. Workers with H-2B visas come to the United States for a temporary period of time to work in industries such as landscaping, seafood, fairs, and hospitality. Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM) has advocated for H-2B workers’ rights on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border for nearly 10 years. CDM applauds the critical worker protections provided by the comprehensive H-2B rule, which will be finalized after a 60-day comment period. However, CDM is concerned by loopholes in the H-2B wage rule, which may cut workers’ wages.  Protections in the comprehensive rule for H-2B migrant workers include:

  • Job Contracts. Employers must provide a copy of the job order to each H-2B worker in a language the worker understands no later than when Read more

Standoff in the strawberry fields

August 19, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
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August 19, 2013  5:00AM ET
In July, Washington berry pickers went on strike. A week after their return, farm owners brought in H2A guest workers

BURLINGTON, Wash. — Over a tense two-week period in July, at the peak of the summer harvest season, almost 250 workers at the $6.1 million Sakuma Brothers strawberry and blueberry farm — one of the largest in Washington state — went on strike twice. Workers fought with the farm’s owners over wages, overtime pay, alleged racist treatment and conditions in their housing camp. They won concessions but lost on most of their monetary demands. With few resources left, they returned to the fields.

Sakuma Brothers Farms could afford to play hardball because it had an ace in the hole: It had been certified to bring 160 new workers from Mexico under the restrictive H2A guest-worker program. And the lower wages mandated for guest workers under U.S. immigration law proved to be the limit not just for the H2A workers but also for all the other pickers at the company.  Read more