The Packer has preached progress on labor issues for quite some time now. Still, nothing gets done with regard to logical legislation that doesn’t threaten to cripple the fresh produce industry.
It’s vital for the industry to compel legislators to reach a practical compromise on labor issues to ensure the steady flow of fresh produce to our stores, restaurants and schools.
The Packer and the produce industry have granted legislators a relative “pass” on labor issues in recent years, saying things such as reform “may be out of reach” in the current fiscal year.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has helped reach a labor compromise of sorts, noting he does not favor card check.
But time and growers’ patience are wearing thin, and extinguishing labor issue fires is getting harder.
In Michigan, as apple harvest nears, growers have raised increasing concerns about labor availability caused by a tougher U.S. immigration climate.
Georgia’s new immigration law already appears to have contributed to a smaller number of migrant workers not only in Georgia but also states to its north.
Georgia’s law, which took effect in July, carries penalties for harboring or transporting illegal immigrants in some situations and allows law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of suspects who can’t show an approved form of identification.
Fortunately, Georgia has ample labor now since a judge has put the whole labor issue on hold.
While tabling labor issues may benefit the produce industry in the short term, the industry can count no long-term success until a workable guest worker program takes effect.
Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.