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October 2018, Volume 24, Number 4
Midwest, Northeast, Northwest
Virginia. Newport News-based Casey's Seafoods was accused in August 2018 of mixing cheaper imported crab from Brazil and China with 400,000 pounds of what was labeled as Chesapeake blue crab between 2012 and 2015. Blue crabs from warmer waters are cheaper, giving Chesapeake sellers an incentive to cheat. Most US crab meat is processed by Mexican workers with H-2B visas.
New York. The owner of a 2,800 cow dairy in western New York was forced to fire 17 workers after an I-9 audit. The farmer says that ?he knows? the fired workers are employed by other farms, circulating between farms rather than leaving the US.
North Dakota. North Dakota is the top honey-producing state, and most of the state's commercial beekeepers hire foreign workers, including H-2A and J-1 visa holders. In FY18, some 550 North Dakota farmers are requested certification to fill 1,735 jobs with H-2A workers.
Idaho. Idaho's Dairymen's Association says that 90 percent of the 8,100 workers on the state's dairy farms were born outside the US, usually in Mexico.
Washington. Washington farm employers requested certification to fill almost 25,000 jobs with H-2A workers in FY18, up from 2,000 in 2009. Apple grower Rob Vallicoff, who bought the FairBridge Inn and Suites in Yakima to house H-2A workers, said that 98 percent of his 220 employees in 2018 were H-2As.
An H-2A worker died at Sarbanand Farms owned by David and Kable Munger in August 2017. Some of the workers complained of inadequate food and smoky air and 65 refused to work and were fired. Some of the fired H-2A workers sued, and in July 2018 a federal judge ordered the state Employment Security Department to turn over to lawyers for the fired workers its records on Sarbanand.
The manager of 100 acres of apples and cherries at LFZ Orchards west of Selah plans to spend $750,000 to build two 2,500 square foot houses to accommodate 48 H-2A workers. Some neighbors objected; temporary farm worker housing projects are regulated by the state Department of Health.
Darigold is a cooperative of 466 northwestern dairy farmers whose employees are the target of a UFW organizing drive. Since 2015, the labor practices of over half of Dairgold member farmers have been audited, with few findings of labor law violations but many farmers not documenting their compliance.