The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Ali Jost, 202-730-7159,Mark McCullough, 202-730-7283,Kawana Lloyd, 202-730-7087

SEIU'S Medina: New H-2A Farm Worker Rules Could Not Come Soon Enough for U.S. and Foreign Workers

Expands Opportunities for U.S. Workers; Increases Wages, Ensures Strong Labor Protections, Improves Conditions, and Protects All Workers from Exploitation


Today, U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis reinstated protections
for temporary, foreign farm workers (H-2A visa holders) that were
slashed from the nation's agricultural guest worker program during the
last days of the Bush administration. In response to the amended H-2A
regulations, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Executive
Vice President Eliseo Medina released the following statement:

"SEIU applauds Secretary Solis and DOL for acting swiftly to restore
fairness and order to our nation's agricultural workforce, who suffered
reduced wages and degraded working conditions under changes made during
the Bush Administration. As a result of Secretary Solis' leadership,
these new rules will help reverse the race to the bottom by employers
who game a broken system to profit on the backs of some of our nation's
lowest-paid workers."

"In the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the amended
rules play a critical role in lifting wages, improving labor and living
conditions, strengthening recruitment of U.S. workers, reducing
incentives to hire and exploit immigrant workers, and helping reign in
bad-actor contractors and employers. We are particularly encouraged by
the provisions designed to prevent employers from using guestworkers as
a tool to defeat workers who stand up for their rights to organize; and
we are hopeful that DOL will provide the necessary teeth to enforce
these critical labor laws effectively.

"While these amended rules could not come soon enough for U.S. and
foreign-born workers, it is true that they only scratch the surface of
our nation's much deeper immigration problems. The only true way to
replace a chaotic, revolving door of cheap, easily-exploited labor with
a fair, controlled system that levels the playing field for all workers
is to pass comprehensive immigration reform. To that end, SEIU will
continue pressuring Congress to lead on this critical issue and pass
smart, comprehensive legislation--including AgJOBS--that improve
working conditions for all workers."

With 2 million members in Canada, the United States and Puerto Rico, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in the Americas. Focused on uniting workers in healthcare, public services and property services, SEIU members are winning better wages, healthcare and more secure jobs for our communities, while uniting their strength with their counterparts around the world to help ensure that workers--not just corporations and CEOs--benefit from today's global economy.