GFVGA Joins Lawsuit Against DOL

Clint ThompsonGeorgia

The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) has joined a coalition of producers and state attorneys general to file a lawsuit against the Department of Labor (DOL), challenging new rules proposed for the H-2A program.

These new “Worker Protection Rules” are slated to go into effect in late June and will continue to make the H-2A process prohibitively expensive and exceeds authority granted to the DOL, while adding more complex regulations to the program, according to the GFVGA press release.

Chris Butts

According to the new rules, the DOL is requiring employers to allow temporary foreign farm workers to form unions, a right not even granted to American farm workers, the GFVGA stated. The DOL claims its authority under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, though that statue does not mention the right to form unions.

“This drastic measure by the Department of Labor will be devastating for the agricultural industry, not just in Georgia but across the nation,” said Chris Butts, executive director of the GFVGA. “Our members’ farms and employees will suffer, because they cannot afford to meet this program’s unreasonable and unlawful demands. We must level the playing field for producers instead of continuing to stack the deck against them.”

Going Against the Supreme Court

Michael Marsh, president and chief executive officer of the National Council of Agricultural Employers (NCAE), who cited the Supreme Court’s June 2021 decision in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, accused the DOL of “shaking their finger” at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court upheld legislation from the National Labor Relations Act which excludes farm workers from federal protections, like forbidding an employer from firing a worker for joining or organizing a labor union.

“President Biden is once again mobilizing the bureaucracy to dismiss and override Congress when it won’t act as he wants. This time it comes at the expense of America’s farmers,” said Braden Boucek, vice president of litigation for Southeastern Legal Foundation, which represents the GFVGA. “Making a living off the land is hard enough these days without the Department of Labor granting a right to foreign workers that is denied to Americans.”

Source: GFVGA