The Bush Administration has released midnight regulation changes that make it easier for growers to slash the pay of domestic farm workers and hire imported foreign laborers instead of U.S. field workers. They will weaken government protections in an industry known for violating the minimum wage, housing requirements and other rules. We must do everything we can to avoid having these regulations implemented. Please help!
Today’s LA Times describes the situation well.
Los Angeles Times, 12/16/08:
Not content to leave office as the most unpopular president in recent history, Bush is cementing his legacy of hardheaded autocracy by pushing through a record number of last-minute and particularly noxious changes in federal regulations. Bypassing congressional debate and often receiving public comments through government websites, the administration has in recent months issued dozens of “midnight regulations” that in some cases could take years to reverse. This isn’t just leaving a stamp on the country, it’s more like inking a tattoo.
Please join the UFW in appealing to President-Elect Obama to act quickly to reverse these harmful regulatory changes once he is sworn in to office and protect farm workers from these callous regulations. Sign the online petition to his transition team today!
More excerpts from Today’s LA Times editorial:
Los Angeles Times, 12/16/08:
Bush rewrites the rules-Last-minute changes being pushed through by the administration, such as altering H-2A visa rules, are creating disasters that Barack Obama will have to reverse beginning Jan. 20.
Although other presidents have crafted rules the next administration might not, none has been so aggressive or destructive as Bush. His administration has attacked environmental safeguards, reproductive rights and public safety. It has acted to permit uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, curtail women’s access to birth control, allow visitors to carry loaded guns in national parks — which are among the safest public places in the country — and open millions of acres of unspoiled land to mining.
Last week, the Department of Labor weakenedthe nation’s already flawed agricultural guest worker program. The new H-2A visa rules, which take effect in January, revise the way wages are calculated and will lower them substantially. In California, farmworker advocates say, the current $9.72 hourly wage would drop by 18%. The new rules also reduce requirements for growers to prove they have made a good-faith effort to recruit U.S. workers and limit how much they have to reimburse workers for their trips home. This is precisely what opponents of immigration reform feared: policies that disadvantage citizens and encourage the easy exploitation of migrants…
The LA Times is not the only newspaper that has spoken out. The following excerpts comes from yesterday’s Miami Herald editorial.
Miami Herald, 12/15/08
Rule changes target vulnerable workers.
OUR OPINION: Don’t allow last-minute regulations to erode standards
The torrent of new rules being issued by the Bush administration as it heads out the door is turning into a regulatory fiasco. The changes have lowered the bar on environmental review across the board, from limiting worker exposure to toxins to ignoring provisions of the Clean Water Act and softening, if not gutting, the Endangered Species Act. Late last week, new rules targeted vulnerable members of the labor force — farmworkers.
…Rules that are to be published this week and which would take effect just days before President Bush leaves office would: make it easier to hire foreign ”guest workers” — to the detriment of Americans willing to work in the fields; lower wage standards; and weaken oversight of farm hiring. This revision will hurt those who can least afford any cuts in pay or erosion of job protections…
Yesterday’s New York Times editorial said:
New York Times, 12/15/08
A Cheap Shot at Workers
The Bush administration is doing a last-minute overhaul of the visa program for temporary farmworkers to make it easier to hire foreigners over Americans, to lower workers’ wages and to erode their rights. You would think that after failing for eight years to fix immigration, the administration would pack it in rather than make one last listless stab at a solution. But this plan isn’t even that – it’s just midnight meanness, right in time for the holidays…
There are many more newspaper articles and editorials on this subject, but the bottom line is the same. These regulations are horrific for farm workers and we need the Obama administration to do everything it can to make sure they are not enacted.
That is why we are asking you to please join the UFW in appealing to President-Elect Obama to act quickly to protect farm workers by reversing these harmful regulatory changes once he is sworn in to office . Sign the UFW’s online petition to his transition team today!
* For more specific information on these regulations click here to see Farm Worker Justice’s 2 page Summary of H-2A Regulations, entitled “The Bush Administration’s Shameful Legacy for Farmworkers: Midnight Regulations on the H-2A Guestworker Program” & click here to see their White Paper, “Litany of Abuses: Why we need more–not fewer–labor protections in the H2A Guestworker Program and click here to go to the UFW’s guestworker page where we will be posting the latest information.