Bush to ease H-2A agricultural "guest" worker program; pulls plans from DOL site

From this:

[Pending Bush administration rules would make] controversial changes to the so-called H-2A guest-worker program [that] could cut wages and speed worker recruitment. They also would relax requirements for providing foreign workers with housing and transportation.

A Labor Department spokesman said Wednesday night that the final rules would be made public Thursday and published in the Federal Register on Dec. 18, which means they'd take effect two days before Barack Obama is sworn in as president Jan. 20.

...American farmers, though, consider the 50-year-old program slow and cumbersome, and it provides only a fraction of the U.S. farm work force. California, for example, uses only about 500 H-2A workers annually, while it has about 300,000 migrant farm workers.

The Labor Department announced in February that it would revise the program. The department subsequently received some 11,000 public comments, many duplicative. On Monday night, the final revisions, totaling 166 pages plus explanatory material totaling 393 pages, were posted quietly on the Labor Department's Web site.

The Labor Department dropped some initial proposals that had drawn fire, including one that would allow employers to provide housing vouchers instead of housing. However, many other changes survived.

...By Wednesday, the new rules had been pulled from the Labor Department's Web site. It couldn't be determined Wednesday why the material had disappeared...

See the link for the details. One of those quoted against changes is [[Bruce Goldstein]] from the [[Farmworker Justice Fund]]. One in support is [[Frank Gasperini]] of the [[National Council of Agricultural Employers]]. A release from an opponent is at: causaoregon.blogspot.com/2008/12/bush-administration-to-slash-farm.html