Posts Tagged ‘agriculture’

H-2B Visa Program Report: Leveling the Playing Field

Leveling the Playing Field: Reforming the H-2B Program to Protect Guestworkers and U.S. Workers, a report released by the NGA in June 2012, details how employers have turned the H-2B visa program into the “ultimate tool” for undercutting U.S. workers and exploiting low-wage guestworkers, while corporate lobbyists block Department of Labor reforms that would level the playing field.

The report highlights cases of exploitation from Texas to Tennessee, and calls for four indispensable reforms that would end employer abuse and protect both guestworkers and U.S. workers:

  • Guaranteeing guestworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation;
  • Prohibiting employers from using guestworkers as cheap, exploitable alternatives to U.S. workers;
  • Eliminating debt servitude and other elements of human trafficking in the program; and
  • Subjecting employers to meaningful government enforcement and community oversight.

The report was authored by the Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law’s Center for Immigrants’ Rights on behalf of the NGA. It is available for download here.

New H-2B Rules Protect Guestworkers, U.S. Workers

New H-2B Rules Protect Guestworkers, U.S. Workers

NGA, workers praise Department of Labor move to end exploitation, create level playing field in U.S. guestworker program

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 10, 2012—New H-2B guestworker visa regulations released by the Department of Labor today will protect guestworkers from exploitation while helping secure the wages and job security of U.S. workers, the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) said.

“The Department of Labor has taken a major step in ensuring dignity at work for thousands of guestworkers—along with higher wages and working conditions for hundreds of thousands of Americans in critical industries,” said NGA Executive Director Saket Soni.

“The H2B program has been a nightmare of forced labor and debt servitude, with employers using cheap, exploitable guestworkers to undercut local workers and prevailing wages,” Soni continued. “These regulations will protect U.S. workers and wages by stopping employers from exploiting guestworkers to undercut the local labor force.”

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Morales v. Bimbo’s Best Produce

Antonio Morales et al.  v. Bimbo’s Best Produce, 8-cv-5105, U.S. Dist. Ct., E.D. La. (filed Dec. 2008)

(Download PDF)

H-2A guestworkers who were trafficked into the United States from Mexico and subjected to forced labor in the strawberry fields bring claims against their former employer Defendants Bimbo’s Best Produce, Inc. and Charles Relan in Amite, Louisiana.

Upon arrival at the strawberry plantation, Defendant Charles Relan, the owner and operator of Bimbo’s, subjected the guestworkers to a scheme of psychological coercion, threats of serious harm, and threatened abuse of the legal process to maintain control over them and force them to continue laboring in his strawberry fields. Recognizing that the cruelty of these conditions would drive guestworkers to seek to escape, Relan illegally confiscated their passports and visas.

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