OLYMPIA — A new committee intended to help shape Washington state’s agricultural workforce policy meets for the first time Monday in Olympia.
The Agricultural and Seasonal Workforce Services Advisory Committee was established as part of legislation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee in May. It provides the state Employment Security Department additional oversight over the use of foreign workers through the federal H-2A program.
The new committee, made up of farmworker advocates and members of the state’s agricultural industry, will provide feedback on Employment Security’s new Office of Agriculture and Seasonal Workforce Services.
It will offer recommendations for Inslee and the Legislature on recruiting and hiring domestic agricultural workers, as well as an analysis of the estimated costs and available funds for Employment Security to manage H-2A and other farmworker programs.
The advisory committee is made up of eight voting members, four representing agricultural workers — including one who is a farmworker — and four representing agricultural employers. The committee is chaired by an Employment Security representative who is a non-voting member.
Non-voting members from the state Department of Agriculture, Health and Labor and Industries are also part of the committee.
Voting members representing agricultural workers are Michele Besso, attorney, Northwest Justice Project; Rosalinda Guillen, executive director, Community to Community; Erik Nicholson, vice president, United Farm Workers; and Ramon Torres, a farmworker who is also president of Familias Unidas por la Justicia.
Voting members representing agricultural employers are Jon DeVaney, president, Washington State Tree Fruit Association; Mike Gempler, executive director, Washington Growers League; Rosella Mosby, owner-operator of Mosby Farms; and Delia Pena, director of orchard human resources and H2-A, Zirkle Fruit Co.