October 14, 2020: Today we filed a lawsuit against Trump's Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. On September 30th, the Department of Agriculture took an unprecedented step toward reducing farm worker wages. They announced the unilateral decision to eliminate the data collection that is the only national source of information that allows the Department of Labor to determine and set guest worker wages. Without this information, the wages of all domestic farm workers could be adversely impacted.
Stand with farm workers by signing their petition to protest these changes.
For over 100 years USDA has consistently used this method to collect data about farm labor and wages. The federal Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), determines the minimum rate that must be paid H–2A workers to avoid undercutting the wages of domestic farm workers. The AEWR rate is higher than the minimum wage in all 50 states -- often significantly. To put it in perspective, in states like Utah and Wisconsin, wages could fall by as much as $7 per hour. Even in California, workers stand to lose almost $2 an hour.
The USDA gave no rationale for this change and did not make it available for public comment. In addition, they did not consider the incredible harm this move would have on farm worker wages and did not explain why they chose to eliminate it even though many states and federal entities rely on this information.