WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), and Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07) are leading 43 of their colleagues in calling on the Department of Labor (DOL) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to improve the H-2A program used by farm workers. Both agencies have announced proposed rules that would serve to protect these essential workers. The members are urging swift finalization of those rules to ensure accountability and transparency in the H-2A program and broader agricultural industry.
“Farm workers are essential workers who play a critical role in the functioning of the United States economy and too often suffer wage theft, sexual assault, trafficking, and other forms of abuse and exploitation,” wrote the Members. “The proposed rules represent an enormous opportunity for DOL and DHS to increase the wages and working conditions of H-2A and U.S. farm workers and improve the enforcement capabilities of agencies against abusive employers who circumvent U.S. law and undermine the Congressional intent behind the H-2A program.”
The proposed rules would specifically:
- Improve farm workers’ ability to advocate for themselves in the workplace without the fear of retaliation;
- Address widespread human and labor trafficking in the system;
- Improve transportation safety by requiring seat belts in employer-provided transportation;
- Protect against exploitative practices commonly used by employers, especially as related to worker pay, back wages owed, and wage and hour violations; and
- Improve enforcement against abusive third parties including recruiters, supervisors, contractors, joint employers, and others.
Along with Jayapal, Barragán, and Grijalva, today’s letter was signed by Representatives Alma S. Adams, Ph.D. (NC-12), Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (NY-16), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Greg Casar (TX-35), Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Judy Chu (CA-28), Steve Cohen (TN-09), J. Luis Correa (CA-46), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Maxwell Alejandro Frost (FL-10), Ruben Gallego (AZ-03), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Robert Garcia (CA-42), Sylvia Garcia (TX-29), Daniel S. Goldman (NY-10), Jimmy Gomez (CA-34), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (GA-04), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-12), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerrold Nadler (NY-12), Grace Napolitano (CA-31), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Katie Porter (CA-47), Delia C. Ramirez (IL-03), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Adam B. Schiff (CA-30), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-12), David Trone (MD-06), and Nydia M. Velázquez (NY-07).
It was also endorsed by the UFW Foundation; United Farm Workers; A Better Balance; Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, Inc.; Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP); Center for WorkLife Law; Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc.; CIERTO; Economic Policy Institute; Farm Labor Organizing Committee; Farmworker Justice; Justice for Migrant Women; Justice in Motion; Migrant Clinicians Network; Migration that Works; National Employment Law Project; National Employment Lawyers Association; National Immigration Law Center; National Institute for Workers’ Rights; National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association; Polaris; Rural Coalition; UnidosUS; United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW); Bienestar; Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy (CAUSE); Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA); CRLA Foundation; Dolores Huerta Foundation; El futuro es Nuestro; Farm Worker Ministry Northwest; NC Farmworker Advocacy Network; New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty; North Carolina Justice Center; Northwest Forest Worker Center; Organizacion en California de Lideres Campesinas, Inc. (Lideres Campesinas); Pineros Y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste (PCUN); Student Action with Farmworkers; Sur Legal Collaborative; The Guatemalan Maya Center, Inc.; TODEC Legal Center; Toxic Free North Carolina; Workers Defense Action Fund; The Guatemalan-Maya Center; and FLAP- Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project.
The full text of the letter can be read here.