West Coast H-2A minimum wage likely to increase

By Dan Wheat, Capital Press

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-4-22-41-pmThe minimum wage for H-2A visa foreign guestworkers in Washington and Oregon likely will rise 5.44 percent to $13.38 per hour in 2017, making it the highest in the nation, according to WAFLA, formerly the Washington Farm Labor Association.

The rate has been $12.69 for the past year and goes up every Jan. 1 based on government surveys of regional prevailing wages.

“It appears that the large percentage increases and higher wages for field and livestock workers are symptomatic of a dramatic labor shortage nationwide,” said Dan Fazio, WAFLA director.

“It’s good news for workers but very tough for farmers,” he said.

As it increases, it’s increasing farmers’ production costs, he said.

The mandatory minimum wage for H-2A workers, known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate, is set by the U.S. Department of Labor based on surveys of prevailing wages of domestic workers by region. It is above state minimum wages and intended to prevent wages of domestic workers from being adversely affected by the importation of foreign workers. Read more …