H2A wage rule shows Trump commitment to farmers says Perdue

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIBW) – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is voicing his support for the Department of Labor’s H2A wage rule.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue says he is praising the Department of Labor’s new H2A wage rule, delivering on President Trump’s promise to stabilize farm labor costs and reform the H2A wage rate.

“This rule shows once again President Trump’s commitment to America’s farmers by delivering lower costs when they need it the most,” said Secretary Perdue. “Over the past several years farm wages have increased at a higher pace than other industries, which is why this DOL rule could not come at a better time. This is an example of good government that will ensure greater stability for farmers and help them make long term business decisions rather than facing uncertainty year after year.”

According to the USDA, the DOL’s rule updates the methodology of deciding the annual Adverse Effect Wage Rates in the H2A visa program. It said the new rule improves the consistency of the AEWRs, provides stronger protections for workers and establishes better stability and predictability for employers in complying with wage obligations.

The USDA said for the majority of agricultural jobs, the rule stabilizes the wage rate through the calendar year 2022 by using the average hourly wages for field and livestock workers, as reported by its Farm Labor Survey in November of 2019, as the AEWRs for field and livestock worker jobs. It said starting in 2023, and annually after, DOL will adust the AEWRs by the percentage change in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index for wages and salaries for the preceding 12 months.

According to the department, for all other agricultural jobs, the DOL will set and annually adjust AEWRs using the average hourly wages for the occupational classification reported by the BLS Occupation Employment Statistics Survey program. It sid these jobs are often supervisory or higher-skilled or uniquely skilled like construction jobs, which pay higher wages than typical farming occupations.

The USDA said the changes also address stakeholder concerns about the potential for significant and unpredictable wage changes from year to year associated with DOL’s previous methodology, while also ensuring better wage protections for U.S. workers similarly employed in higher-skilled agricultural jobs. It said more predictable wage adjustments in the program will help farmers plan and budget workforce needs and ensure wages in the program keep pace with steadily increasing wages in the wider economy. By taking this action, it said DOL is protecting workers and helping farmers keep food on tables.

According to the USDA, the DOL intends to issue a second final rule to finalize the remainder of the July 29, 2019, proposed rule that will govern other details of the certification of agricultural labor or services performed by H2A workers and enforcement of the contractual obligations applicable to employers of such nonimmigrant workers.

The full rule can be read here.

Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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