Session Update! CLS advocates are working hard to advance racial and economic equity in Washington this legislative session. Here’s an update from week three:
Improve data collection to protect farmworker wages: HB 2226 & SB 5996
The agriculture industry brings more than 30,000 H-2A workers to Washington each year – as much as 1/3 of the harvest workforce and a 1,000% increase since 2008. Without effective protections, bringing in workers from places with few economic opportunities can drive down wages in the local economy, meaning all workers suffer.
Currently, the Employment Security Department conducts an annual survey of employers to determine what workers are earning in the local market and set the baseline for wages at farms that use the H-2A system. Unfortunately, employer responses are not aligning with the reality in the fields, and the faulty survey results can drive wages down by 20% to 50% or more depending on the crop.
We must listen to farmworkers about their wages. These bills mandate a comprehensive survey of workers, with in-person interviews and more data points so we can better protect wages as well as the health and safety of workers on farms that utilize the H-2A program.
Tell your legislators you support HB 2226 & SB 5996!
Where are CLS’ other priority bills right now?
Rights for Vehicle Residents (HB 2359, Rep. Peterson): The first reading of this bill passed on Jan. 15th and it was referred to the House Transportation Committee but not yet scheduled for a hearing.