Today, December 21, 2017, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor (Department) issued its Federal Register Notice to announce the 2018 Adverse Effect Wage Rates (AEWRs). This notice applies to the employment of temporary or seasonal nonimmigrant foreign workers (H–2A workers) to perform agricultural labor or services.
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. The new AEWRs are effective 14 days from today (January 4, 2018). This is a departure from AEWR announcements during the Obama Administration which stated that the wage rates were to go into effect immediately upon publication of the notice.
The Arizona AEWR has dipped again, from $10.95 to $10.46 per hour. However, the rate is a just a mirage. All H-2A users must pay the higher of the AEWR, or the federal, state, or local minimum wage. Since, Arizona’s minimum wage goes up to $10.50 per hour on January 1, 2018, H-2A workers must be paid not less than $10.50 per hour.
California employers currently under an H-2A contract will have to increase the minimum wage rates loaded into their payroll systems for workers now in the field effective January 4. In states with decreasing wages, employers may only lower their minimum hourly wage if their H-2A contracts permits it. Western Growers Labor Services’ H-2A contracts routinely include such language on behalf of their clients.
Since 2005, Western Growers has provided members with H-2A 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.