SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a public comment letter, led by the State of Kansas and co-signed by a coalition of attorneys general, to the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division. The States wrote in opposition to the Department’s recently proposed rule, “Improving Protections for Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States.”
The attorneys general argue that this proposed rule from DOL violates both the “major questions doctrine because Congress did not clearly authorize the Department to grant foreign migrant farmworkers the right to unionize through the rulemaking process” and the “Fifth Amendment because it involves a taking without just compensation.” The coalition additionally made the case that this rule “prioritizes the interest of foreign agricultural workers over American ones.”
In this comment, the States also asserted that this new regulation would be unlawful regardless of the violations to the major questions doctrine. They wrote, “There is little doubt that there is high political and economic significance to unionizing temporary foreign farm workers while leaving American agricultural workers behind. But even if there were not, this rule would still be contrary to law. First, Congress has already spoken on the issue. And it has excluded all farmworkers from collective bargaining protections. There is no ambiguity in that. There is certainly no support for the position that the Department can override this explicit statutory exclusion through the rulemaking process.”
Utah and Kansas were joined on the public comment by the States of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.