Produce may move to a location where it seems like there’s plentiful labor and within a matter of a few years there’s a lot of competition for labor and it becomes more scarce. So we’re trying to figure out how to attract and retain employees, and one of the best ways to do that--other than earning power--is to provide people with places to work that are more enjoyable, that are clean, that respect their labor and respect them as individuals. This is how we’re going to keep people in our industry.
Two Driscoll’s Executives, Brian McElroy, the VP of Global Ethics and Standards, and Kelley Bell, VP of Social and Environmental Impact, took some time to talk about the current labor dynamic in agriculture and the associated opportunities and challenges for the industry.
Trump Backs House Bill Mandating E-Verify and Replacing H2A After Four Immigration Bills Fail in the Senate
In the wake of the failed Senate attempts, President Trump is now backing U.S. House Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s solution which mandates e-verify and overhauls the H2A program. Goodlatte’s bill addresses DACA, funds border security, ends chain migration, ends the visa lottery, and replaces the H2A program with the new H2C program.
Kristin Snapp of Domex Superfresh Growers has orchard work in her blood. She was just eleven years old when her dad told her to drive his truck....without any instructions other than to keep it out of the Roza Canal. At the age of twelve her first job was pruning fireblight out of a block of baby pear trees. The trees are no longer alive, but Kristin went on to have a big impact on the apple industry in eastern Washington, including serving as the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association.
As the #MeToo movement continues to spread and more survivors give voice to their experiences with sexual harassment, everyone from movie executives to farm owners are asking: How can we prevent this from happening in the future?
West Mathison started his career in agriculture at the age of six, pulling weeds in the Stemilt nursery. As he grew up, he gained experience running crews in the orchards and supporting human resources during college. After college, he left the family business for a few years to work as a consultant at Accenture. He returned to Stemilt as a project manager, then an Executive VP and finally, in 2005, took the helm as President.
Andrew & Williamson’s Amalia Lommel has been deeply involved in agricultural human resources issues during her 24 years at the company. As the Director of Social Responsibility, she's helped lead cultural change initiatives as well as the company's involvement with EFI and Fair Trade USA. A&W grows berries in California and Mexico and grows tomatoes and cucumbers in Mexico. Amalia shared with us some of the insights she's gained as A&W blazes new trails in human resources management.
The Net Promoter Score was introduce by Fred Reicheld in 2003 after several years of customer satisfaction research. Reicheld found that not only could you reduce your customer satisfaction surveys to a single question, but you could also use it to predict growth. “In fact, in most of the industries that I studied, the percentage of customers who were enthusiastic enough to refer a friend or colleague—perhaps the strongest sign of customer loyalty—correlated directly with differences in growth rates among competitors.”
The Agricultural Guestworker Act (AG Act or H2C) would replace the H2A program and allow an additional 500,000 non-residents to work year-round on US farms and ranches. “The cap will cause shortage of 446,000 ag workers per year. Settled out farmworkers will be forced to become temporary visa workers and not have a path to citizenship, and E-verify will be instituted without a way to get supplemental workers to meet shortage," said Mike Gempler, Executive Director of the Washington Growers League.
On Saturday, as sexual harassment continued to make national headlines, the Yakima Herald brought the issue home to the agricultural community in WA state. The article pointed out the challenges with farmworkers reporting harassment, and mentioned some resources for prevention.
With seventy-one percent of victims deciding that the risks of reporting sexual harassment outweigh the benefits, employers have a challenge on their hands.
With a new bombshell dropping nearly every day implicating celebrities, politicians and business leaders in sexual harassment, employers may be starting to break a sweat.
Agriculture isn’t exempt. In fact, female farmworkers are especially vulnerable with 60 percent reporting having experienced sexual harassment. And ag employers are equally liable. In 2015, $17 million in damages was paid to five farmworkers in Florida who had accused their supervisors of rape and harassment.
A report in Rural Migration News describes the four strategies agricultural employers are using to address the labor shortage: satisfy, stretch, substitute, and supplement.
The number of undocumented workers in the US rose from 4 million in 1995 to 8 million in 2007. After 2007, unauthorized border crossings slowed dramatically, and the undocumented workforce stopped expanding and started contracting. Ag workers are lost to city jobs, construction jobs, retirement and returning back to their countries of origin.
As of April 2017, only six states in the US report average farmworker wages below $12/hour--AR, LA, MS, GA, SC and AL. This USDA wage survey data includes field workers, livestock workers, and other roles like tractor drivers. For all farm labor, the US average is now $13.23/hour.
Did you know that about 8.6 trillion text messages are sent each year? That includes 6 billion per day in the US alone.
And farmworkers are no exception to the texting trend. In fact, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center survey, 87% of latinos use their phones for texting--a higher rate than the average in the US.