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What seasonal employers need to know.


Labor Alert
June 7 2017
New H-2A Piece Rate Wages
Survey Wages are in Effect for WA Employers

The Department of Labor has notified employers using the H-2A program of new wage rates that are in effect as a result of a Washington State survey.   

There are several issues with the new rates, namely:

  • The notification is effective upon receipt. Most growers received the notification on June 2 or June 5. Unfortunately, the notification is dated May 23. Employers should keep a copy of the notification date, as inspectors who examine records some time later may assume that it was received on May 23.
  • Many piece rate wages are reported with a prevailing piece rate and an underlying hourly wage. For example, Braeburn apples are listed at $22 per bin piece rate + $12.69 underlying hourly wage. DOL and the state are requiring that employers pay the prevailing piece rate regardless of the underlying hourly wage. This is contrary to what state survey representatives told us would happen.
  • Honeycrisp apples are listed at $15.00 per hour. This means that employers who harvest Honeycrisp at a piece rate must guarantee a minimum hourly rate of $15.00 per hour each week in addition to the piece rate earnings. Many employers have a payroll system that accommodates different piece rates with only one guaranteed underlying hourly rate. These employers may be required to run a separate payroll for Honeycrisp apple harvest.
  • Golden Apple Harvest is reported in a $26 per bin piece rate for a non-standard 46”x43”x25.5" bin. Washington ESD staff has advised wafla by email that the piece rate for Goldens should be $27.82 using a standard 47”x47”x24.5” bin, but this is not official.

The changes to the wages are due to a survey sponsored by the Washington State Employment Security Department. There are several unresolved issues with the survey. Wafla is working with the agency to correct problems.  The survey is conducted in the fall and it is voluntary. Until we are able to address these issues, wafla does not recommend participation in the Washington State Prevailing wage survey.

To access the full official memorandum on the new wage structure click here.


This information is produced by wafla for informational purposes only. The items contained herein are provided for general information and do not constitute legal advice. Wafla does not provide legal advice or counsel; and readers should make their own inquiries before making any decision based on this or any other information received from wafla. If you have questions regarding this alert, please contact the editor, Kim Bresler.

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