UFW wants to protect some workers from deportation, but not if they oppose the union

The UFW takes two positions on foreign workers in the US under H2-A agricultural labor visas.

  • Don’t let them get fired, because under the H2-A seasonal worker visa system, they will be deported.
  • Fire any H2-A workers who oppose the UFW (and let them get deported).

Here’s the latest: UFW Vice President Erik Nicholson says foreign farmworkers on H2-A visas are vulnerable to abuses, because if they complain about conditions, they risk getting fired, and if they get fired, they will be deported.

“One of the challenges of this program is that the person’s visa is tied to one employer, and the moment they are fired, they are no longer allowed to be in the country,” Nicholson told the Arizona Republic.

UFW: Workers who oppose us should be fired and deported

But the UFW has wanted to fire thousands of Fresno-area farmworkers who tried to decertify the UFW in 2013. Those workers on H2-A visas, under the law, would be deported.

And that’s OK with the UFW, because those farmworkers have been a thorn in the UFW’s side for years.

The UFW had abandoned Gerawan farmworkers in the Central Valley for 20 years, after quitting an effort to write a contract between the workers and their employer. UFW did nothing for the farmworkers it claimed to represent.

Then, in 2013, under the protection of politicians from Sacramento, the UFW came in to force a contract on the farmworkers against their will. The UFW even urged that the workers who opposed the union should be fired.

For those H2-A workers, that would mean instant deportation.

UFW knew 2,400 workers would lose their jobs, but did nothing

The UFW’s Nicholson told the Arizona Republic that he is worried about workers losing their jobs. But HE was responsible for the loss of more than 2,400 $18-an-hour farmworker jobs in the Fresno area. Those workers were the highest paid in the area, but UFW didn’t care. The UFW knew in advance that the jobs would be lost, but the union did nothing – even though it claimed to represent those 2,400+ workers.

The H-2A visa program, according to the Arizona Republic, “is for seasonal workers, generally for a period of 10 months or less, to provide farms with “short-term agricultural labor when the number of available domestic workers is insufficient.”