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United Farm Workers Argues Groups Representing Employers Should Not Intervene in Wage Case

A tractor fertilizing a field

Tracking shot. Drone point of view of a Tractor spraying on a cultivated field. Small Business.

The United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation argued in the Eastern District of California lawsuit they filed against the Department of Labor that the court should deny the requests from groups to intervene and stay the matter regarding pay rates for H-2A visa agricultural workers.  

The lawsuit was filed by UFW asking the court to require the government to provide Adverse Effect Wage Rates for 2021 and complete a farmworker survey instead of implementing a new system which the plaintiffs claimed would not be ready in time. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, and also granted their request to require employers to pay farmworkers on H-2A visas backpay for the delayed wage rates, although the court later limited the backpay requirement

The National Council of Agricultural Employers and the Western Growers Association asked to intervene on June 10, 2021, which the plaintiffs noted was six months after the complaint was filed and five months after the preliminary injunction was granted and the Department of Labor was ordered to notify employers about the potential adjustment and backpay. The groups said in their motion that their attempt to intervene was timely because they became aware through a May 14 filing that parties “do not share the same ultimate objective.” 

The proposed intervenors reportedly represent “a significant majority of agricultural employers who utilize the H-2A temporary nonimmigrant visa program,” and have interests in the matter. They also asked the court for a stay while the court rules on their motion to intervene. 

In response to the request, the plaintiffs said “to characterize the proposed intervenors’ motion as filed at the eleventh hour would be charitable.  Prior to the motion, the Court had already issued a wage-adjustment order, the parties had fully briefed proposed amendments to that order, and this Court had indicated it was fully ‘prepared to issue a final order addressing the parties’ requests for modification.’”

They argued that allowing the parties to intervene or the stay would cause an unjustified delay as the proposed intervenors have been aware of the litigation and are only attempting to join now to oppose the plaintiffs’ proposed amendment to the May 14 order, which has now been rejected. The plaintiffs also purported that the groups interests are already represented and that in their motion they did not show how their interests are not aligned with the Department of Labor, and that the arguments made by the defendant matches what the proposed intervenors would likely argue.

The United Farm Workers are represented by Farmworker Justice and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. The National Council of Agricultural Employers and Western Growers Association are represented by Smith, Gambrell & Russell LLP

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