On Friday, an agreement between growers and farm workers labor unions was reached on one of the major and last components of the sweeping reform bill for immigration being currently drafted in the U.S. Senate. The new agreement would set up visas, wages and the working conditions for the many migrant agricultural workers used by farms.
The new accord was reached after many weeks of negotiations between industry leaders and farm worker unions and was brokered by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California. The deal establishes the “blue card” for the migrant workers that are already in the U.S. without permission and allows up to, but not exceeding 336,000 visas for migrant farm workers.
The package is three fold and is very important to the huge agricultural industry of California. The deal will be worked into the immigration reform bill currently being written by eight bipartisan senators, who hope to unveil the broad reaching legislation next Tuesday.
Senator Feinstein, who is not part of the bipartisan group of eight senators, led the effort on the farm worker issue with Senator Michael Bennett a Colorado Democrat and Senator Marco Rubio a Florida Republican, whom are members of a broader group along with Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican.
Feinstein said that everyone involved has endorsed the new agreement. Talks have been going on for a number of months, but snagged when growers pushed to have lower wages and less limits on the number of visas, while farm labor unions sought visa caps and higher wages.
In the end, the growers achieved their two goals, with wages raised slightly and more visas becoming available than in offers that had been made earlier. Labor leaders in exchange secured a longer visa period and requirements that the farms pay transportation and housing costs.