From GoodFruit.com, Good Fruit Grower, “Fazio leaves Farm Bureau to head labor group” by Melissa Hansen, 8 Apr 2011.
[WA] — During Dan Fazio’s tenure at the Washington State Farm Bureau, he helped create the Washington Farm Labor Association, a non-profit organization that assists workers and employers in agricultural workforce issues. Fazio, who was Farm Bureau’s staff attorney for labor and employment, is now the new director for the Farm Labor Association, headquartered in Lacey, Washington.
The Farm Labor Association was an arm of Farm Bureau, Fazio said, explaining that it was organized to complement and do labor-related projects that Farm Bureau couldn’t do, for various reasons. In April, the Farm Labor Association became a stand-alone program.
Services offered by the association include guestworker programs, education and training, human resource consulting, and housing. The association started a seasonal guestworker program for H-2A and H-2B workers in 2007, which now accounts for about 2,000 foreign worker visas each year. The group is also responsible for building and operating the recently opened Ringold Seasonal Housing Facility, a 100-bed migrant worker housing facility on ten acres.
Fazio plans to work closely with existing industry organizations in labor-intensive agriculture to provide needed services. “Our services range from answering the mundane labor employment question to the more important H-2A program,” he said, adding that the group is working on guestworker applications that would run back to back, eliminating expensive transportation costs. For example, cherry pickers needed for June and July could finish their H-2A requirements and then start a new term for apple harvest from August to October, without having to return to their home country first.
Fazio said that he would basically be doing the same job he did at Farm Bureau, just more program services and not so much lobbying. Negotiations are underway between the two groups, but in concept, the Farm Labor Association would handle labor-related services while the Farm Bureau would continue to focus on labor policy and lobbying, sources say.
Mollie Hammar, director of public relations at Farm Bureau, said the parting was very amicable. “We wish his well in his new endeavor. Dan’s done a great job serving and energizing the members of Farm Bureau.”
He began his new role on April 4.
Visit washingtonfarmlabor.com to learn more.