On December 19, 2014, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor (Department) issued its Federal Register Notice to announce the 2015 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs) for the employment of temporary or seasonal non-immigrant foreign workers (H–2A workers) to perform agricultural labor or services. Western Growers issued an email e-blast to members on Friday, Dec. 19th on this issue.
AEWRs are the minimum wage rates the Department has determined must be offered and paid by employers to H–2A workers and workers in corresponding employment for a particular occupation and area so that the wages of similarly employed U.S. workers will not be adversely affected. In its Notice, the Department has announced the annual update of the AEWRs is effective the day it was issued, Dec. 19th). This means that employers currently under an H-2A contract will have to immediately revise the minimum wage rates loaded into their payroll systems for workers now in the field.
In the November 25, 2014, edition of Spotlight, we published projected AEWR increases for 2015 – and those predictions turned out to be accurate. The Arizona AEWR has increased from $9.97 to $10.54 per hour. California’s AEWR has increased from $11.01 to $11.33 per hour. Colorado and Nevada AEWRs have both gone up to $11.37 per hour.
Despite repeated demands by Western Growers and the H-2A user community for ETA to give some reasonable advance notice of the change in AEWRs, the Department has again, as it has done in recent years, published its annual AEWR changes without giving any advance notice. This places a great hardship on H-2A users who are in the middle of the busy harvest season to learn of the Notice and adjust their payrolls accordingly. Western Growers will continue to push the Department to comport with fundamental notions of due process and respect for the H-2A user community, and provide reasonable notice of AEWR changes.
Since 2005, Western Growers has provided members with H-2A application processing and recruiting services. If you would like more information about Western Growers’ labor services or the H-2A program in general, please contact Jason Resnick, vice president and general counsel.
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