Carol Brooke: Truth in hiring

December 7, 2012 

Truth in hiring

In a Nov. 25 Point of View piece, Lee Wicker of N.C Growers Association complained that the H-2A program is too bureaucratic and expensive. What he characterizes as bureaucracy, however, may be the simple requirement that H-2A job openings be advertised and offered to American workers first.

Additionally, many of the expenses paid by growers in the program actually go to benefit the grower association or a private labor broker, not to the government or workers.

It is also disingenuous for Wicker to suggest that there are no U.S. workers willing to do farm work. In reality, growers like to hire foreign workers because they do not have to pay Social Security or unemployment taxes for them and because the law prohibits H2-A workers from quitting and seeking employment elsewhere, as U.S. citizens can.

Finally, it is mean-spirited to suggest that H-2A program reform should not include a path to citizenship. Many of the H-2A farmworkers in our state have been coming to North Carolina for more than a decade. These people have made enormous personal sacrifices, contribute huge amounts to our economy and ought to have a path to enjoying basic human economic rights enjoyed by the millions of Americans they feed.

Carol Brooke

Workers Rights Project director,

N.C. Justice Center

Raleigh

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