To the editor:
Sen. Mike Goggin's SF899 takes advantage of workers' tenuous H2A status.
Goggin argues, "The choice is solely up to the employee; the bill does not require or expect any worker to work overtime."
No, let's be clear. What employee wouldn't prefer overtime? This exemption is for the employer. It legislates lower wages for the employer. Hours and length of employment is specified in the H2A employment contract.
The only "choice" left to employees is to work hours the employer wants or lose their job and leave the U.S. if they can't find another job immediately. That's not "choice," it's extortion.
Most of us have worked "at will." Employers set the hours and work is "at will" on the employer's terms. You are "at will" to comply, quit, or be fired "at will."
Goggin works for Xcel, which has a high pay rate and likely pays hourly workers overtime for over 40 hours a week. H2A workers must have an employment contract, are covered by federal wage laws, and employers must meet specific employment and reporting requirements to recruit and hire H2A workers, including declarations that they can't find U.S. workers.
From Leviticus 19:33-34: "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born."
The senator should instead promote equity and a legislative mandate of overtime pay for over 40 hours weekly.
Why exploit H2A guest workers? Is SF 899 the Christian thing to do?
Carol A. Overland