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H-2A and Other Documented Employees Require Adequate Housing

06/12/2019

EGG-NEWS has commented previously on the relationship between acceptable housing for legal migrant workers and their productivity and tenure. Faced with competition from industry and progressively higher labor rates and the imperative to train and retain employees, many egg farmers are evaluating alternatives to their traditional recruiting and retention programs.  This is especially the case in the Southwest where employers require legal workers from Mexico and Central America.

 

Unlike seasonal harvests, egg production provides year-round employment and demands a high level of training in stockmanship and a commitment to welfare and acceptable procedures. The H-2A program requires employers to provide housing meeting minimum standards as laid down by the Department of Labor.

 

Based on personal experience in a number of nations and observing the situation in the U.S., egg producers should seriously consider providing acceptable housing for documented workers and their families.  With the conversion from conventional cages to aviary systems, labor requirements are at least double and sometimes three-fold compared to conventional cages creating a demand for additional workers.  Selection and then training including supervision is an expensive component of the cost of labor.  Motivated employees deserve both job security and domestic stability in return for service and commitment.  Providing homes of a suitable standard will generate loyalty to an employer and will contribute to a stable workforce which can be relied on to adhere to company procedures.

 

It is a matter of judicial record that in past years, producers such as the DeCoster family exploited workers and provided “captive” groups of employees with substandard accommodation. His companies used disused and obsolete trailers for housing subjecting workers to unsanitary and unhygienic conditions resulting in intervention by state and Federal authorities in addition to adverse judgments and settlements in civil lawsuits.

 

Along with investments and installations to satisfy structural biosecurity and environmental compliance, developers of new complexes should consider the erection of housing for workers as an integral component of capital cost as they now or should do with biosecurity.