The farm in Cohoes needs two people who can work 50 hours a week, lift 70 pounds, deal with extreme temperatures and frequent stooping and will take $11.36 an hour. The one in Dunkirk wants eight workers to live in a house with 1.5 bathrooms. They’ll work six days a week and will get a free lift once a week to the grocery store, since the farm won’t provide meals. And another in Valatie wants seven workers to dig and wrap trees and take care of ornamental plants between now and December 1.
They are among dozens of offers of farm work that New York State growers advertise through the state’s Department of Labor. Farmers are obligated to publicize the jobs to domestic workers first, but after an expiration date passes “the job order is removed from the web page and employers are no longer obligated to interview and/or hire U.S workers who are referred to the job by a Career Center or through self-referral,” according to state DOL.
That’s because under the federal H-2A program, employers can bring in foreign labor for seasonal work when they can “demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Employers also must “show that the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.”
It’s unclear that posting a notice on a hard-to-find section of a state website really represents an effort to make these farm opportunities known to U.S. workers. And that’s just one criticism of the H-2a system, which has also been labeled as “rife with abuse of both foreign and domestic workers.”