Georgia Department of Labor Releases Results of Prevailing Practices for Hiring Farm Workers
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
The Georgia Department of Labor released the findings from its Prevailing Practice for Farm Workers and Laborers Survey via conference call Friday afternoon, June 15. The survey was intended to provide information regarding the hiring practices of fruit and vegetable farmers who employ seasonal workers.
Measuring responses on a scale noted ‘not normal’, ‘normal’, and ‘prevailing’, the survey addressed all aspects of hiring and labor practices from pre-employment farm experience, to payment periods and providing housing for farm workers. GDOL surveyed over 1500 employers and gathered valid responses from 226 farm operations employing over 10,000 seasonal workers.
Significant survey findings showed the following:
- Provision of family housing – not a prevailing practice
- Payments of wages – the prevailing practice is weekly
- Advance payment for transportation from place of recruitment – not a prevailing practice
- Use of Farm Labor contractors to secure workers –not a prevailing practice
- Employers providing tools, supplies and equipment for workers – this is a prevailing practice
- Employers requiring experience to perform job duties – this is a prevailing practice
A number of agricultural organizations, including the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, cooperated in making growers aware of the survey and encouraged participation. GFVGA’s interest in the survey was to establish an accurate baseline of employment practices for Georgia farm operations.
The normal and prevailing practice that producers in Georgia require farm laborers to have previous farm experience prior to employment was of particular interest to GFVGA and H2A employers. Though the length of experience varied by commodity, over 88% of the surveyed growers in Georgia said they required experience prior to hiring farm workers.
According to GFVGA Executive Director Charles Hall, the GDOL did a great job of conducting thorough, unbiased and comprehensive research that accurately reflected wage and labor practices among the fruit and vegetable industry in Georgia. Hall said there should be no question as to the validity and fairness of the survey because it was conducted by the Georgia Department of Labor.
GFVGA President Dick Minor expressed the association’s appreciation for all of the effort that went into creating and processing the results of the survey. “Commissioner Mark Butler did a tremendous job of making this a priority within his department. He and his department listened to us and responded,” he said. Minor also noted that Commissioner Butler has actively tuned in to grower needs regarding farm labor, even attending the SE Regional Fruit and Vegetable Conference in January to gain more insight.
Minor continued, “This was no small task, and we want to express our gratitude for the time and effort from the Commissioner and the GDOL staff to produce this survey and conduct research that was both unbiased and an accurate depiction of the atmosphere and production practices of our fruit and vegetable producers.”