We’d like to highlight a new seasonal worker program, instituted by the state of Washington. This program is called the Washington Farm Labor Association, or simply “WAFLA.” They are doing a test run, and as they work out details and kinks in their program, we hope that this type of temporary worker program will be able to be used in different states across our union, for agriculture, but also in other industries – construction, hotel, restaurant, etc.
These 18 workers are a test run. Wafla is planning to use air transportation for large groups – up to 100 per day, beginning in May.
Air transportation is much safer than buses, and workers prefer it. It is a lot harder to arrange, but costs are comparable to buses, and it cuts travel time from five days to two. Growers in the Pacific Northwest are facing a severe labor shortage, and the only way to deal with it is through the federal legal worker program called H-2A. One of the obstacles is transportation – it’s a long way from orchards and fields in the Pacific Northwest for the workers in central and southern parts of Mexico.
This group are farm workers were recruited in the state of Durango, Mexico, and they are headed for a grower in Idaho’s Treasure Valley.
The group is flying from Durango to Tijuana, where they will have consulate appointments and receive visas. Once they finish the consulate process, they will take a charter bus to the U.S. border, where they will present the visas that were issued at the U.S Consulate in Tijuana. They have a 15 mile bus ride to San Diego airport, where they will board a commercial flight from San Diego to Seattle, connecting to Boise, and another short charter bus from the airport to a farm in the Treasure Valley, about 30 miles away.
This is another example of Wafla making the legal worker program better work for employers and workers in the Pacific Northwest!
We will watch and wait to see how this program works, in hopes that it is successful and grows. Way to go, Washington!