Karst chat with Dan Fazio: Obama needs to back H-2A - The Packer

Karst chat with Dan Fazio: Obama needs to back H-2A

11/30/2011 02:02:00 PM
Tom Karst

 1:10: Fazio: We have 20 farmers that use the H-2A program, and I wrote the H-2A applications for 15 of the 20. So that is going to be another 3,500 people that come in through the H-2A program. So that creates workers for the guys that don’t use the H-2A program, those workers, that is 3500 more positions that are coming into the state.

 1:11 p.m. Karst: What do you think were the causes of the labor shortage in Washington?

 1:12 p.m. Fazio: We got lots of calls from newspapers who said, ‘Isn’t it terrible that because of the I-9 audits, you don’t get workers?” Or a writer with the Chicago Sun Times said that because of the crackdown on workers in Arizona and Alabama, growers in Washington didn’t have enough workers to pick their crop. And both of those - the I-9 audits and the crackdown on workers in Arizona and Alabama- had absolutely nothing to do with our worker shortages.

 1:13 p.m. Karst: What were the causes of the labor shortage in the Northwest? Was it the late harvest?

 1:13 p.m. Fazio: The first problem is that it is a really tough job and no one wants to do it. As a matter of fact, I would go so far to say that the crackdown on undocumented worker sin Arizona increased our labor supply because Washington is one of two states in the (U.S.) where an undocumented worker can get a drivers license from the state. Do you realize how huge that is? Think of yourself, if you are person that is undocumented, how are you gong to going to get a check cashed? How are you going to get unemployment?

 1:14 p.m. Karst: So growers are worried about (the labor supply) but what are they doing to prepare for the future?

 1:15 p.m. Fazio: Growers haven’t embraced the H-2A program because the Administration doesn’t want us to use it. The Obama Administration is trying to get us to not use the H-2A program because they don’t want us to solve our problem. It is so simple for me to understand it, but everyone is like, “Are you sure that is happening?”

Yeah, I'm sure. I’ve talked to the folks. Their problem is they want to legalize the people that are undocumented; we want to do that too, but we are not going to allow (Congress) to legalize the people who are undocumented unless they give us a guest worker program. Because if we legalize the people that are undocumented, that is great for the next three to five years. Then what are we gong to do? That’s where we differ with the Administration.

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