The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced new rules for employers, which will go into effect this month, requiring employers to fire workers who are unable to clear up any problem with their social security numbers within 90 days of receiving notice (no-match letters). The rule handicaps agriculture employers, creating an unreasonable document-verification burden on management. Additionally, fines against employers will increase by about 25 percent to $10,000. The OAN responded sharply to the DHS announcement and is diligently working with members of Congress, the media, and other industry partners to combat the new rule.
This month's topic covers prevention and first aid procedures for eye injuries.
First Aid for Eye Injuries (English)
Primeros auxilios en caso
de lesiones en los ojos (Espanol)
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The OAN joined with labor and faith organizations to call on Congress for swift passage of the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits, and Security (AgJOBS) Act (S.237/ H.R.371). This measure would create an earned adjustment program for undocumented farm workers who would be eligible to apply for temporary immigration status based on their past work experience. The legislation would also streamline the existing H-2A foreign agricultural worker program.
OAN has been closely following a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California filed by several employee unions. On Friday, August 31, federal court judge Maxine M. Chesney issued a temporary order prohibiting DHS from implementing the amended regulation and restraining the Social Security Administration (SSA) from mailing no-match letters, which were to begin this week. The lawsuit claims that the new DHS rules threaten to violate workers’ rights and unfairly burden employers. Judge Chesney stated the court needs some time before making any decisions and will reexamine it on October 1.
The OAN worked with KOIN TV 6 morning news reporter Lynn Huston on Tuesday, August 28 to highlight the serious worker shortage Oregon’s nursery industry faces. The broadcast included an interview with OAN member Tom Fessler of Woodburn Nursery and Azaleas and stressed that an effective guest worker program is sorely needed.
The Department of Homeland Security’s new worksite enforcement priority means new regulations and greater risks for employers. These include increased penalties for violations by approximately 25 percent and increased use of criminal sanctions for knowingly employing unauthorized workers. The amended regulations describe specific steps employers should take upon receipt of a no-match letter. What an employer cannot do is simply ignore the problem. If an employer does nothing to resolve the mismatch or doesn't act in good faith, the employer will be liable for employing an unauthorized worker and faces stiff penalties and sanctions.
Touted as one of the leading nursery and greenhouse industry trade shows in the U.S., the 2007 Farwest Show captured attention from trade press and general business news alike. A blogger posting on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer site noted, “I was glad to see the quality of plant material growers are producing these days. The liner plugs…were exceptional and I racked up so many plant catalogs, I'll be highlighting these endlessly in the hopes that I can place an order this fall.” The Capital Press interviewed several exhibitors who reported the show’s value in providing face-time with multiple buyers. "We have been busy and seen many of our ongoing customers," said J.R. Tancredi, of Alpha Nursery in Salem. Floral Design Institute posted glowing comments on their myspace blog, and BuZZ from Green Profit closed their report with “The education sessions were good, the show floor was crowded and the attendees were having a great time networking—just what a trade show is all about.” The show held its popularity and attendance numbers in the face of concerns about downward trends in trade shows across the country.
Farwest Show attendees saw an impressive display of new plants, not the least of which were displayed in the New Varieties Showcase (NVS). The display, created by a team of local landscape design pros, stopped people in their tracks and left some speechless. Now in its second year, the NVS includes a requirement that the plants be readily available for sale. Show exhibitors offering plants featured in the Showcase used the display as a tool to demonstrate the plants’ landscape value to potential buyers. NVS winners are posted online at farwestshow.com.
On Aug. 16 Dennis Worden, staffer for Representative David Wu, visited the Hines Nursery Forest Grove site. His visit was an opportunity to showcase the nursery and present the industry perspective on pending immigration legislation, and how it relates to employees’ welfare and safety. Hines’ Jack Neeway took Worden on a tour of the facility and emphasized how immigrants are fundamental to the nursery’s success, the positive economic impact this labor force has on the local economy and what the workers receive in return: year-round employment with benefits, specialized training and opportunities for advancement within the company.
Thirty-six garden centers in Western Oregon will host festivals, exhibits, workshops and family-friendly entertainment Sept. 15-23 as part of the 2007 Le Tour des Plants, A Garden Center Excursion, produced by the Oregon Association of Nurseries (OAN). Designed as a self-guided tour, Le Tour des Plants is intended to showcase fall as planting time. Le Tour des Plants is produced by OAN and sponsored by Monrovia, Novalis and Netherland Bulbs. It is the largest organized garden center tour in the nation, and the only tour of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.
The 2007 OAN Annual Convention will be held September 27-29 at the Seventh Mountain Resort. The event is a valuable resource for starting and strengthening industry partnerships and learning how to grow your business. Keynote speaker, Bob Treadway, a consulting futurist and forecaster, will discuss trends, factors and forces that will shape the future of horticulture for the next decade and beyond. Jyme Mariani, managing editor of NMPRO and GMPRO magazines, will discuss the Green Movement and how it can affect your lifestyle and business’ bottom line. The OAN Annual Convention offers a fun social environment for professionals and families alike.
On Tuesday, August 28, a news conference was held in Salem to announce the Coalition of Environmentally-Conscious Growers and a tree growers certification. The purpose of the certification is to educate the public on the importance of living trees and promote healthier growing practices. Formed by two growers, Holiday Tree Farms and Yule Tree Farms, the coalition will recognize those growers who best exemplify sustainable growing practices. Yule Tree and Holiday represent 20% of all the Christmas trees grown in Oregon (the country’s largest source of Christmas trees).
International Plant Propagators Society Western Region conference will be held in Salem, Oct. 17-20. The conference will include nursery tours and speakers such as Sean Hogan, Neil Bell, John Eisley, Mark Krautman, and many others.
The OAN Sponsored Health Plan is a program that saves members thousands each year. It’s important to know about ODS’s enrollment guidelines so you can provide this benefit to employees and their eligible dependents. ODS requires that employees and/or their dependents apply for coverage within 31 days of becoming eligible. To learn more about the OAN Health Plan’s enrollment requirements, visit www.oan.org or contact CFP, Inc. at (888) 588-2988 ext. 336.
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