A federal court in California issued a preliminary injunction against the Labor Department’s decision to freeze farm workers’ wages for those that use the H-2A Guestworker Program.
Fruit and Nut Grower News is reporting the freeze would effectively lower the wages of several hundred thousand guest farm workers employed by U.S. farmers.
A preliminary injunction was issued in federal court in Fresno, California, in a lawsuit filed by the United Farm Workers and the UFW Foundation, with both groups represented by Farm Worker Justice.
The new regulation was to take effect on December 21 and regulate wages beginning in January. A Farmworker news release says the Department of Labor has estimated that H-2A guest workers would lose wages totaling $57 million in 2021, $139 million in 2022, and an average of $170 million annually over 10 years.
The DOL also says that U.S. farm workers not under the H-2A program will also lose wages. The H-2A program has been expanding in recent years. More than 275,000 visas were approved by the DOL under the program in the fiscal year 2020. The State Department also issued more than 204,000 H-2A visas in 2019.