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A federal judge has just supported a Department of Labor-imposed minimum wage for foreign farm workers — a good decision made regarding a particularly obscure labor market, that’s for harvesting onions in Nevada.
The lawyer for the growers unwittingly told the unvarnished truth about these rules, according to a Law360 news article, arguing that “the minimum wage rules for H-2A employers ... drive up wages for non-H-2A employers, who must stay competitive in the market to retain workers.”
Rules - Workers - News - Nevada - District
That's exactly what the rules are supposed to do — protect American workers — and that's why it is good news that Nevada federal district court Judge Timothy Kelly ruled as he did.
Every year for more than 50 years the Department of Labor had decided what the minimum wage rate must be, on an hourly and state-by-state basis, for employers using the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. These are called “Adverse Effect Wage Rates” (AEWR) because if they are undercut, U.S. workers will be short-changed. They are routinely higher than the statutory minimum wage, which is currently a totally out of date $7.75 an hour. The 2019 AEWR in Nevada is $13.13, about the median for these wages compared to other states.
Rates - Spring - Assistant - Farm - Labor
I have been watching these rates since the spring of 1965, when I became the assistant for farm labor to the U.S. secretary of Labor in the LBJ administration. I worked for the late W. Willard Wirtz. That was the year that the old, exploitative Bracero program died, and our task was to try to find a little economic justice in the farm labor market.
The Bracero program was a WWII-period scheme that brought Mexican males to U.S. farms, particularly in the West, to...
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