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Community for the Long Haul –
Fostering an Enduring Network of Seasonal Employers

Times are tough for Ag employers, and while your unique challenges seem isolating, you need to know that you’re not alone. We want to help surround you with information, resources, and connections that help you to cultivate a reliable workforce.


    Agenda Overview
    Wenatchee, Washington | January 30
    *subject to change

    Go To Oregon Agenda >


    General Session 1

    Management That Motivates
    Jeff McLean, wafla Field Services

    Whether you hire employees who make minimum wage or six figure salaries, your business will succeed when workers see business success as their own personal success. Learn how the working environment your supervisors create is determining the return on your greatest investment – your workforce.

     

    When Money Isn’t Enough: Motivating New and Veteran Workers
    Lee Wicker, North Carolina Growers Association

    Great wages and working conditions will attract a quality H-2A workforce, but a worker’s goals and motivations change over time. Learn techniques for keeping both new and veteran workers engaged, motivated, and performing at their best.
     

    Workforce Motivation Questions & Answers
    Jeff McLean and Lee Wicker

    General Session 2

    Mediation/Arbitration: No Time to Wait
    Gregg Bertram, Pacific ADR

    In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that employers can establish policies that force arbitration when disputes arise, avoiding costly lawsuits. This is a rare win for employers – and everyone needs to take advantage. Recent court rulings caused a spike in class-action lawsuits against employers who use piece rate, and now the Washington State Supreme Court may end the overtime exemption for all agricultural workers in Washington. If that happens – and for a dozen other reasons – you should implement a mediation/arbitration policy.  Learn from an expert with 30+ years’ experience how to properly protect your operation.
    Breakout Session I *see offerings below
    Lunch Presentations 

    Getting Lawmakers to Care about Farmers – One Grower’s Observation
    John Huibregtse, Sundquist Fruit

    John Huibregtse – an attorney, CPA, and the CFO at Sundquist Fruit in Yakima – regularly attends conference calls with ESD about the H-2A program, and he testified in Olympia about a bill that would charge employers who use the H-2A program. John shares his perspective about the importance of growers speaking out.  
     

    "Why this Bellevue Barista Is Deciding Your Future"
    Fred Likkel, Save Family Farming

    Elected officials answer to the electorate, and you can see more than 60 percent of the electorate from the top of the Space Needle!  So, if we don't win over that Bellevue barista, the H-2A program will continue to face mischaracterizations that lead to more burdensome regulations, more fees, and increasing efforts to control seasonal employers. How do we effectively counteract the narrative so that growers can influence the policy agenda in Olympia?
    Breakout Session II *see offerings below
    Breakout Session III
    *see offerings below
    General Session 3

    Prevailing Wages/Mandated Piece Rates: Will You Have To Pay Them?
    Sally White-Harmeling, JDSA Law

    The feds set a mandatory minimum wage (the AEWR) for employers who use H-2A. States are free to adopt higher “prevailing wages” if they think the federal rate is too low for certain activities. What happened in 2019? Why did growers file a lawsuit? What do we expect for 2020, and what should you do about it?
     

    Community for the Long Haul
    Dan Fazio, wafla Executive Director

    Breakout Session I
    *choose from the following

    The AEWR and Prevailing Wage: What the #&%@!?
    Leon Sequeira, Attorney

    Every year the feds impose an arbitrary AEWR and the state piles on with a prevailing wage survey. Where do these surveys come from? Should you respond to them? Can we do our own survey? Leon Sequeira, a former Assistant Secretary of Labor in the Bush Administration, explains survey mechanics and possible responses by the industry.

    Discipline Tools: Equipping Your Supervisors for Success
    Luis Guitron, wafla Field Services and Housing Manager; Jeff McLean, wafla Field Services

    Seasonal employers have become increasingly nervous about using progressive discipline in recent years, but without this basic management tool, you can’t build a productive workforce. Join us to learn the positive power of discipline when it’s administered properly and discover how strategic supervisor training will enable you to correctly and effectively use discipline to develop a motivated workforce.

    Alternative Visa Options for Ag Employers
    Ryan Ogburn, wafla Visa Program Manager

    Don't qualify for H-2A? Need workers for year round jobs? Or just want to expand your knowledge?  There are other employment based visa options. Learn about the EB-3, J-1, and TN Visas from wafla’s Visa Director, Ryan Ogburn.

    New Hire Reporting & Mandatory EFT: How Employers Help to Reduce Fraud and Improve Lives
    Mitch Dillard and Dieter Jacobs, Department of Child Services

    Employers account for over 70% of the child support and medical insurance DCS disburses to families.  Thank you! The New Hire Program helps families thrive while reducing benefits fraud and related expenses to employers. It also helps ensure the accuracy of Unemployment Compensation and L&I benefits. Learn about the New Hire Reporting program, and get updates on income withholding, medical enforcement, and mandatory Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) payments.

    Breakout Session II
    *choose from the following

    Discipline Tools: The Positive Power of Evaluation Systems
    Jeff McLean, wafla Field Services

    Contrary to popular opinion, it is not illegal to measure worker productivity – you just need to do it correctly.  Beyond their corrective function, performance evaluations communicate a lot about your expectations and goals for your operation. Learn how effective implementation of performance standards empowers supervisors and increases ownership that employees take in their work.

    H-2A: The (so-called) Farmworker Modernization Act, Proposed Rules by DOL, and How They Impact You
    Leon Sequeira, Attorney

    Get the latest on H-2A legislation from D.C., proposed DOL H-2A rules, and get insights on how all H-2A employers need to prepare for 2020 and beyond.

    Constant Communication: The Ambassador Program
    Kim Bresler, wafla COO; Luis Guitron, wafla Field Services and Housing Manager

    Pay issues, harassment complaints, and other symptoms of worker dissatisfaction are a few of the issues that can disrupt your work flow and impact your bottom line. If we could show you a way to avoid those issues, with no cost to you, would you be interested in learning about it?  Enter the wafla Ambassador Program: four sets of extra eyes and ears living at wafla housing facilities and available to meet with your workers, facilitate communication between you and your workers, and keep you in the loop. Learn how Field Ambassadors will work for you.

    Letting Workers Go Home Early: How It Can Help or Hurt You
    Lee Wicker, North Carolina Growers Association; Ryan Ogburn, wafla Visa Program Manager

    Workers sometime request to go home mid season or any time before your contract ends, for a myriad of reasons. How should you respond? A proactive approach to these situations works to your benefit – as long as you know what you need to consider before saying "yes" or "no,” and what records you should maintain.

    Breakout Session III
    *choose from the following:

    Labor Unrest: What Can We Learn From 2019?
    Host: Jeff McLean; Panel: Adam Belzberg, Stoel Rives

    Insanely high government mandated wages mean that every worker needs to produce. Your supervisors feel this pressure and transfer it to workers – and workers contact labor unions if they feel threatened.  Join us as our panelists unpack the complex issues that threaten your H-2A workforce, and evaluate/discuss strategies for avoiding the same mistakes this season.

    When Unfortunate Events Happen to Guestworkers
    Leon Sequeira, Attorney; Dan Fazio, wafla Executive Director; Samantha Mendoza, wafla Account Exec.

    This year, a grower encountered a terrible on-the-job accident, resulting in 11 severe injuries and 1 worker fatality. Other growers encountered health-related and accidental off-the-job foreign worker fatalities. Although these situations were no fault of the grower, they presented difficult challenges that may become more common as the number of guest workers in our state rises. At this session, we’ll cover your legal obligations, practical considerations, and procedural best practices. 

    Innovative Contract Upgrades
    Ryan Ogburn, wafla Visa Program Manager

    Two disruptions that negatively impacted growers this year a mumps outbreak and increased illicit drug use. Learn how strategic additions such as vaccination, drug testing, and mediation/arbitration policies can proactively insulate your operation from disruptions and reduce their negative affect on your bottom line.

    SWA Report: What We Find on Field Checks and Field Visits
    Craig Carroll and Rene Maldonado, Employment Security Department

    The most successful H-2A operations view ESD field staff as an ally to help gain compliance insights. The least successful operations treat ESD field staff as intruders. The fact is that cooperating with ESD field staff can make your program a success.  ESD Ag director Craig Carroll and State Monitor Advocate share the most common issues they see, and suggest ways you can monitor compliance internally.


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