A step in the right direction for H-2A Agricultural Worker Rights
History has a chance to make a mark for itself in regards to agricultural progress in Washington state. This progress is more often than not measured by the dominant narratives and represent the agricultural industry of Washington state. Senate Bill 5438 and its companion House Bill 1398 are pieces of legislation, by request of the Employment Security Department, that can bring regulation and governmental oversight to secure the needs of the counter-narratives representing the agricultural industry.
H-2A workers are foreign agricultural workers who contribute to the agricultural-dependent economy of Washington state through a federal temporary/seasonal agricultural work visa, regulated through the US Department of Labor. This contribution to society not only puts food on the table of Washingtonian families, but also contributes to the export of Washington’s crops at both a national and international level.
The Employment Security Department is the designated state agency that has oversight of the federal program for H-2A workers within these state boundaries. Unfortunately, providing the statewide monitoring services of fast-growing labor force has proven to be difficult with the allocated funding from the US Department of Labor. Providing the necessary compliance in the form of field checks, community outreach, and education is not feasible with the workforce predicted to reach 30,000 people for 2019. Proper funding not only ensures proper state oversight, but also ensures that H-2A workers receive the protections they so rightfully deserve.
Feeding Washington comes with responsibility and protections for all involved.
Local and serious action needed on homelessness
To the dismay of everyone who, unfortunately, believes there have been efforts to address the homelessness crisis in Olympia, and plenty of money was spent at local, state, and federal levels, as well. What is going so wrong with the rampant homelessness has to do with our local government’s evident inaction out of “respect and compassion” for the individuals who use our sidewalks and other public spaces as a restroom or even worse, to dispose of their syringes and other items that are hazardous.
That our county is experiencing an explosive boom in the homeless population should not mean that our residents and businesses having to see their quality of life taking a deterioration dive. Compassion is one thing, lack of common sense, especially towards our city and county authorities for not taking serious action on the littering and disturbances many, if not some, of the homeless individuals bring to our communities is another. Perhaps The Evergreen State College should, by state action, become a place that could help the homeless individuals, no?