GE Tree Company ArborGen Promotes Unfair Labor Practices

Note: In an email dated 15 September 2016, Andrew Baum, President and CEO of ArborGen, urged people to contact their representatives to renew the H-2B Guestworker program’s “Returning Worker Exemption” which he called “a vital piece of legislation that will greatly influence the success of the coming planting season for forestry.”  The H-2B program has been heavily criticized for stripping migrant workers of any rights.  

The Guestworker Alliance states, “The problems with the H-2B program are numerous, and well-documented. Rampant abuses occur in the system, and include: failure to pay promised wages, retaliation for defending basic rights on the job, and even involuntary servitude.”

Given the lawsuits brought against the company by its employees and its promotion of socially and ecologically dangerous GE trees despite overwhelming public opposition, this support for the exploitation of migrant workers is hardly surprising, though undeniably despicable.

–The GJEP Team

Below is the excerpted 15 September email from ArborGen:

Important Message from Andrew Baum, President and CEO of ArborGen

Our representatives with Forest Resources Association (FRA) are working with the H-2B Workforce Coalition to raise Congressional awareness of the importance of renewing the H-2B Guestworker program’s “Returning Worker Exemption” in the Appropriations bill that must be passed by this September 30, when the FY 2016 Appropriations legislation expires. This will probably happen and the program will be extended three months.

The new Appropriations bill would be negotiated after the election. However, there needs to be a change in the Continuing Resolution for the “Returning Worker Exemption” to make it easy to extend another year: 2016 needs to be changed to 2017. Coalition members are working to make sure that members of Congress learn that this provision is important to constituents.

To encourage our representatives to make this change, ArborGen is urging all forestry related employers to place op-eds or letters to the editor in their local papers.

Please consider approaching newspapers in your area with a letter, or op-ed, based on the attached draft, altered according to your own judgment, and requesting publication. Members of Congress pay close attention to opinions published in papers in their districts and states. Please see the sample letter on the right.

In addition, if you haven’t already done so, please use FRA’s “Write Your Legislators” module to send a separate (predrafted) message on this topic directly to your House member and both Senators. The link to the module is at FRA Action. Circulating this request to your staff and business associates is also important.

You’ll find more information on the H-2B Guestworker program on FRA’s Policy Priorities page at Forest Resources.

Because the “Continuing Resolution” process is moving quickly, it is important to act quickly. Getting your letter or op-ed in print before this weekend is important, since votes may occur early next week.

Thanks for your support on this request. This is a vital piece of legislation that will greatly influence the success of the coming planting season for forestry.

 

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