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WASHINGTON FARM LABOR ASSN ANNOUNCES 2013 GUEST WORKERS ANNUAL REPORT
Source: Washington Farm Labor Association news release

The Washington Farm Labor Association (WAFLA) today released an annual report for the H-2A program in Washington State for the 2013 season. H-2A is the federal program that permits farmers to obtain visas for foreign workers when there is a shortage of able, willing, qualified, and work-eligible domestic workers. The report is filled with statistics and highlights about the rapidly growing H-2A program in Washington.

Employers who enroll in H-2A voluntarily agree to pay living wages, provide free housing and other benefits, and subject themselves to rigorous state and federal inspections. "It is a classic win-win. There is a critical shortage of farm workers, and workers tell us that the H-2A program is a fantastic opportunity," said Dan Fazio, Washington Farm Labor Association director. The report includes comments from both foreign and domestic workers.

"The statements of workers, the higher wages, the better working conditions, and the rigorous state and federal inspections of employers who use the program, stand in stark contrast to allegations of worker abuse," said Fazio. Labor unions and other labor groups have traditionally opposed guest worker programs fearing that domestic workers will be displaced, but the H-2A program requires farmers to hire domestic workers.

H-2A program use has exploded in Washington State. In 2013, more than 6,000 foreign workers were certified to legally enter the state, an increase of nearly 50 percent as compared to 2012. Similar increases were recorded in the number of applications filed and number of employers using the program. Washington Farm Labor Association filed approximately 80 percent of all H-2A applications in Washington during 2013.

The 2013 Annual Report records many innovations such as cost-sharing contracts, technological advances by the federal Department of Labor, and the first use of the new Tijuana Consulate by Washington growers.
The Washington State Agricultural H-2A Guest Workers 2013 Annual Report can be found at http://wafla.org/guestworkers.


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