A group of 17 state attorneys general, led by Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach, filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration this week over a rule that allows temporary farm workers in the country on H-2A visas the power to unionize.

Federal law bans American farm workers from collective bargaining. 

“Once again, Joe Biden is putting America last,” Kobach said in a statement. 

“He’s giving political benefits to foreign workers while American workers struggle in Biden’s horrible economy. I stand with American workers.”

Filed on June 10 in the Southern District Court of Georgia, the complaint argues that the new rule from the US Department of Labor is a rewrite of the National Labor Relations Act and that only Congress has the power to amend the NLRA.

Kobach contends that the new rule creates a situation where many temporary, foreign migrant farmworkers would have the power to unionize, unlike millions of American farmworkers — treating the foreign workers better than the Americans. 

The lawsuit says that the US Department of Labor thinks the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) allows it to make this new rule.

Yet, the state attorneys general think differently. They contend that it doesn’t allow the department to provide H-2A visa workers with better working conditions than their American counterparts. 

“The final rule goes above and beyond to provide… rights to H-2A workers. These are rights American farmworkers explicitly do not have under federal law,” the complaint reads. 

“…The final rule is simply a backdoor so that the agency can achieve a policy goal that requires legislation that it cannot convince Congress to pass.”

The lawsuit consists of two private agricultural organizations, plus attorneys general from Kansas, Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

One can read the court filing here.

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