HB 2226 to require duplicate data collection in the popular H-2A jobs program
- HB 2226/SB 5996 would cost Washington’s taxpayers at least $70,000 in survey incentives.
- The minimum wage for H-2A workers, the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, is intentionally set higher than the state’s minimum wage to discourage employers from relying on the visa program.
- Many farms in Washington state have abandoned piece rate wage structures because they are required to pay an hourly wage for rest and lunch breaks. Maintaining two wage structures requires additional staffing and accounting.
- All the other data the bills propose to collect are already collected and reported by the Washington State Employment Security Department.
- The H-2A program is critical to the success of Washington state’s agricultural community.
The function and administration of the federal H-2A farmworker visa program is one of the most utilized and least understood employment programs in Washington state. The H-2A program provides visas to foreign-born workers to legally find temporary farm work in the United States for up to 10 months a year. Washington state is among the top five beneficiaries of this popular jobs program.
HB 2226, and its companion SB 5996, propose collecting data on the H-2A worker program and from certain hand harvesters with a focus on a specific portion of the H-2A program: wages. The bill would require the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD), which is in charge of administering the program on a state-level, to conduct wage surveys and report the findings to the Legislature and the Agricultural and Seasonal Workforce Services Advisory Committee (ASWSA) annually.