Tree fruit industry officials are asking growers to contact U.S. Senate and House offices to advocate for a freeze of the Adverse Effect Wage Rate at 2023 levels.
The U.S. Department of Labor is poised to raise the AEWR, a regionalized minimum wage for H-2A hires, by 7 percent from $17.98 per hour to $19.25 in Washington and Oregon, and by 5 percent from $15.68 to $16.54 in Idaho. Similar increases for New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania and California also are planned.
The best opportunity to enact such a freeze is the fiscal year 2024 federal government funding process controlled by the House and Senate appropriations committees, said a statement by the Northwest Horticultural Council of Yakima, which represents the tree fruit industry of Washington, Oregon and Idaho in federal matters.
The council suggests growers directly tell their U.S. Congress delegates how labor costs will put some growers out of business, fuel industry consolidation and drive up labor costs even for those who don’t hire H-2A workers.
“Specify whether you are an H-2A grower or not,” the statement said.
—by Ross Courtney