Jan 8, 2019
Relief from wage hikes sought by ag employer group

In a filing made Jan. 7, the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE) asked the federal District Court for the District of Columbia to enjoin the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing new Adverse Effective Wage Rates (AEWR) for 2019.

In the filing NCAE states that they, “bring this action seeking emergency relief from the Department of Labor’s plan to impose arbitrary and unsubstantiated cost increases on American farms and ranches.  The Department’s actions are contrary to the directions and intentions of Congress and must be enjoined as soon as possible to avoid disastrous and irreparable outcomes.”

“The AEWR is designed so that domestic U. S. workers will not be adversely effected by the employment of temporary agricultural workers under the H-2A visa program.  Yet DOL has not offered any data to demonstrate adverse effect and instead has simply imposed additional costs on family farmers and ranchers who have no means to recoup these costs from the marketplace putting their families’ futures in jeopardy,” noted Michael Marsh, president and CEO of NCAE.

Previously NCAE had written a letter to the Secretaries of Agriculture and Labor asking that they intervene in not implementing the unsustainable AEWR.  During the “lame duck” session of the 115th Congress, NCAE had also endeavored to fashion a Congressional directive to the same agencies requiring them to conduct an analysis of whether any adverse effect exists and share that analysis prior to a determination on program criteria.

Marsh lauded the efforts of the Departments of Labor and Agriculture to seek means to reform their processes but noted that farmers and ranchers must have relief stating that, “a requirement to pay a premium wage should, at a minimum, come with a finding that U.S. workers “similarly employed” would actually be “adversely affected” by the employment of H-2A workers at some other rate.”

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