Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Republicans Invite “Guest Workers” To Further Exploitation

A new bill proposed by the GOP attempts to revise H-2A visas and make massive cuts to salaries, workers’ right to housing, and other rights.

Alex Osorio

November 6, 2017
Facebook Twitter Share

Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va), Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has presented the Agricultural Guestworkers Act in an attempt to reform the system that regulates the H-2A visa for agricultural workers. This will also affect H-2B visas issued to temporary non-agricultural workers. A total of more than 132 thousand workers will be affected.

The bill includes dramatic salary cuts, the elimination of the employer’s obligation to pay for worker’s housing, and workers’ right to sue their bosses. It was approved last Wednesday by the House Judiciary Committee in a vote of 17 to 16 and will now be sent to the House and the Senate.

The new H-2C visa, the proposed replacement for the H-2A, would extend the number of visas granted from 66 thousand to 450 thousand. Libertarian groups who have long decried government intervention in “the free market,” such as the CATO Institute and the Immigration Center for Global Liberty, have backed the bill.

Democrats in the House, however, have come out against the bill, saying they have been fighting for a version of immigration reform that offers permanent-resident status for at least some farm workers and that this bill is actually worse than prior proposals. Indeed, it does allow employers to exploit workers with the new visa by removing them from the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

John Conyers Jr., House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member, points out that “the current wage system for farmworkers — the ‘Adverse Effect Wage Rate’ — [has] a wage floor of 115% of the Federal minimum wage — or $8.34 an hour,” but that the new legislation, “will result in wage decreases of up to $5.00 per hour for farmworkers in certain parts of the country.”

The farming fields of the U.S. are seen as the only option by thousands of unemployed Mexicans and Central Americans who are unable to find a job in their home countries and are forced by their lack of employment and poor living conditions to emigrate. It’s hardly a secret that that life is hell in the fields, with 12-hour workdays and deaths due to working conditions.

The GOP wants to pass the Agricultural Guestworkers Act and take advantage of the need for farming jobs because it will allow them to expand low-cost production at the expense of the workers. The changes allow employers to pay poverty wages and remove worker protections, relying on the fact that the increase in competition will create a surplus labor force that will make workers more easily replaceable.

The bosses already exploit the most impoverished workers of countries south of the border through poverty wages even as they make millions in profits. They are now trying to take advantage of a reactionary political environment and the criminalization faced by migrant workers. These opportunities, incited by Trump, have encouraged them to propose a bill with the sole aim of multiplying their profits at the cost of workers’ lives.

Facebook Twitter Share

United States

Image: Joshua Briz/AP

All Eyes on Columbia: We Must Build a National Campaign to Defend the Right to Protest for Palestine

After suspending and evicting students and ordering the repression of a student occupation, Columbia University has become the ground zero for attacks against the pro-Palestine movement. What happens at Columbia in the coming days has implications for our basic democratic rights, such as the right to protest.

Maryam Alaniz

April 19, 2024
NYPD officers load Pro-Palestine protesters at Columbia onto police buses

Student Workers of Columbia Union Call for Solidarity Against Repression and in Defense of the Right to Protest

In response to the suspensions and arrests of students at Columbia, the Student Workers of Columbia is circulating a call for solidarity against the repression. We re-publish their statement here and urge organizations, unions, and intellectuals to sign.

Several police officers surrounded a car caravan

Detroit Police Escalate Repression of Pro-Palestinian Protests

On April 15, Detroit Police cracked down on a pro-Palestine car caravan. This show of force was a message to protestors and an attempt to slow the momentum of the movement by intimidating people off the street and tying them up in court.

Brian H. Silverstein

April 18, 2024

The Movement for Palestine Is Facing Repression. We Need a Campaign to Stop It.

In recent weeks, the movement in solidarity with Palestine has faced a new round of repression across the U.S. We need a united campaign to combat this repression, one that raises strategic debates about the movement’s next steps.

Tristan Taylor

April 17, 2024


SEIU Local 500 marching for Palestine in Washington DC. (Photo: Purple Up for Palestine)

Dispatches from Labor Notes: Labor Activists are Uniting for Palestine. Democrats Want to Divide Them

On the first day of the Labor Notes conference, conference attendees held a pro-Palestine rally that was repressed by the local police. As attendees were arrested outside, Chicago Mayor — and Top Chicago Cop — Brandon Johnson spoke inside.

Left Voice

April 20, 2024
A tent encampment at Columbia University decorated with two signs that say "Liberated Zone" and "Gaza Solidarity Encampment"

Dispatches from Labor Notes 2024: Solidarity with Columbia Students Against Repression

The Labor Notes Conference this year takes place right after over 100 students were arrested at Columbia for protesting for Palestine. We must use this conference to build a strong campaign against the repression which will impact us all if it is allowed to stand.

Olivia Wood

April 20, 2024

Occupy Against the Occupation: Protest Camp in Front of Germany’s Parliament

Since Monday, April 8, pro-Palestinian activists have been braving Germany's bleak climate — both meteorological and political — to protest the Israeli genocide in Gaza, and the unconditional German support for it. 

Erik de Jong

April 20, 2024

Left Voice Magazine for April 2024 — Labor Notes Edition!

In this issue, we delve into the state and future of the labor movement today. We take a look at the prospects for Palestinian liberation through the lens of Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution, and discuss the way that Amazon has created new conditions of exploitation and how workers across the world are fighting back.

Left Voice

April 20, 2024