Jun 11, 2024
H-2A DOL lawsuit adds Georgia growers

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) has added itself to a coalition of produce growers, farmers, and State Attorneys General to bring suit against the Department of Labor challenging new H-2A proposed program rule changes.

The new “Worker Protection Rules,” slated to go into effect in late June, will continue to make the H-2A program prohibitively expensive and exceeds authority granted to DOL all the while adding more complex regulations to the already overly complicated program, according to a news release.

During the New Deal, Congress gave some employees the right to form labor unions through the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), but it explicitly excluded farm workers from the right to form unions and has continued to do so for nearly 90 years, according to the release.

GFVGA legislative update

Now, without any signal of approval from Congress, the Department of Labor is taking unprecedented steps to create rights Congress did not intend, according to the release.

“Under a new agency rule, the Department is requiring agricultural employers to allow temporary foreign farm workers to form unions, creating a new right out of thin air that is not even granted to American farm workers,” according to the release. “The Department claims that it has authority to do so under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, even though that congressional statute — which grants temporary H-2A employment visas to migrant farm workers — never so much as mentions the right to form unions.”

GFVGA is represented by the Roswell, Georgia, based Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF).

“President Biden is once again mobilizing the bureaucracy to dismiss and override Congress when it won’t act as he wants,” Braden Boucek, SLF’s vice president of litigation, said in the release. “This time it comes at the expense of America’s farmers. Making a living off the land is hard enough these days without the Department of Labor granting a right to foreign workers that is denied to Americans.”

Chris Butts, GFVGA’s executive vice president, expressed his dismay.

“This drastic measure by the Department of Labor will be devastating for the agricultural industry, not just in Georgia but across the nation,” Butts said in the release. “Our members’ farms and employees will suffer because they cannot afford to meet this program’s unreasonable and unlawful demands. We must level the playing field for producers instead of continuing to stack the deck against them.”

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