For weeks since Georgia passed its outstanding immigration enforcement law HB87, there has been a constant drumbeat of attack from agricultural interests, using a very willing media, claiming that illegals were fleeing Georgia and there was no way to replace those workers with Americans who simply find it beneath them to pick peaches or dig up Vidalias.
Nonsense – just as is the amnesty-pusher’s refrain that these are jobs “Americans won’t do”. In a stunning and unexpected Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) report, one large Georgia grower regularly favored foreign workers over American employees:
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a June 20 filing that Hamilton Growers of Norman Park, Ga. was engaging “in a pattern or practice of regularly denying work hours and assigning less favorable assignments to U.S. workers” in favor of laborers from the government’s agricultural guest worker program, known as H-2A. It also said there’s evidence the company engaged in a pattern of “discharging U.S. workers and replacing them with H-2A guestworkers.”
The H-2A guest worker program is a temporary visa program which is regularly abused by both foreign nationals, who typically deliberately overstay their visas (they are only valid for up to 364 days) as well as growers, who very often claim to have “H2As” employed, but know full well their workers are simply illegals who presented phony or no ID when hired. In Georgia, the vast majority of foreign nationals working fruit and vegetable growers are illegal aliens.
But this case demonstrates, as plaintiff’s lawyer Leah Lotto said, “the lengths to which growers will go to avoid hiring a U.S. work force in favor of more easily exploitable” foreign workers. This is quite at odds with those complaints about HB87 we heard from Georgia growers after Gov. Nathan Deal signed it back in June, claiming that such work just “does not appeal to most native born workers.” However the roughly 40 American farm workers who sued Hamilton Growers said they were “assigned fewer hours and made less money” than foreign workers, and that some of them were “eventually fired because of their race“. They were all thrilled to have the work, but disgusted with how they were treated in contrast to the H-2A foreigners.
And one can imagine from the EEOC filing how much more preference is likely given to illegals without visas – who can be far more easily exploited. After all, the H-2A program mandates “The wage or rate of pay must be the same for U.S. workers and H-2A workers,” and an “active effort, including newspaper and radio advertising, to recruit U.S. workers in areas of expected labor supply.” Whether or not these growers even bother to follow the rules on foreign visa workers, hiring illegals is far easier, and American workers would likely be treated even worse than these modern-day slave laborers.
The case now heads to settlement. But we hope Ms. Lotto and the workers push for a court trial. Companies like Hamilton, which selfishly exploit foreign workers while cynically trashing American ones need to have an example made of them – and pay a steep price.
In the meantime, you may wish to let Hamilton Growers know what you think of how they treat American workers: (229) 769-3675.
UPDATE: For those asking which brands Hamilton is behind so they can boycott, here is one we found: Southern Valley Fruit and Vegetables.
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