Sen. Tuberville Leads Effort to Freeze AEWR

Clint ThompsonAlabama, Labor

Count U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) as one legislator trying to use his political influence to reverse recent action on the Adverse Effect Wage Rate.

U.S. Senate Photographic Services/Sen. Tommy Tuberville

Along with nine other senators, Tuberville sent a letter (dated Feb. 6) to the leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, requesting action to freeze H-2A wage rates at the January 2023 levels and reinstate the 14-day delay between the AEWR rate posting and implementation periods.

The Letter Says

“Over the last year, the Department of Labor (DOL) amended the H-2A program numerous times to force unreasonable regulations on employees who utilize temporary and season non-immigrant workers to perform agricultural labor in the United States,” the letter stated. “On March 30, 2023, DOL amended the methodology for calculating the AEWR, without any stakeholder input. H-2A employers are now faced with two AEWR changes annually, one each from the Farm Labor Survey and the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey.”

The letter cited the American Farm Bureau Federation in stating the new AEWR rate is approximately $17.55 per hour, with wages varying from $14.53 to $19.75 per hour depending on the geographical region. Thirteen states experienced wage increases of at least one dollar per hour. The H-2A program experienced record participation in 2023 with 378,513 positions certified.

“The cost of labor is already one of the top expenses our farmers face, and DOL’s burdensome requirements hinder their abilities to hire agricultural guestworkers and still make a profit,” the letter added. “The recent 2024 AEWR increase imposes significant financial strains upon employers who utilize agricultural guestworkers, yet many employers do not have another option as they depend upon the H-2A program for a reliable workforce.”

The senators are requesting the inclusion of language in an upcoming appropriations package that would freeze H-2A rates at January 2023 levels and reinstate the two-week delay between the AEWR posting and implementation period.

Other senators included in the letter were James Risch (R-ID), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Rick Scott (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mike Braun (R-IN) and Cynthia M. Lummis (R-WY).

Click here to read the letter.