Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
06.07.2013  
 

Growers Urged to Take Vocal Stand on Immigration

Legislative 'window' for federal reforms open; group honors board chair

 
by Andrew Adams
 
 
sonoma county winegrowers
 
Attorney Monte Lake discusses efforts in Washington, D.C., to draft comprehensive immigration reform laws Friday during a meeting of the Sonoma County Winegrowers at Shone Farms in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Forrestville, Calif.—The wine industry’s labor problem isn’t going to get easier. But if federal lawmakers don’t enact some type of sensible immigration reform, it’s going to get much worse, according to an immigration law expert.

Speaking at a meeting of the Sonoma County Winegrowers, Monte Lake, an attorney with the Washington, D.C.-based law firm CJ Lake, urged the county’s wine grape growers to contact their lawmakers in support of federal laws that would address the issues of skilled undocumented workers living in the country and overhaul the guest-worker program.

Lake gave the immigration reform update to more than 300 members of the growers group during a meeting held today at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm near Santa Rosa, Calif.

“We have a window here folks, a window, and if it goes down you’ll second-guess yourself, ‘What could I have done,’” Lake said.

Rare opportunity for reform
A lack of farm labor is crimping operations in nearly every segment of agriculture as well as dairy, livestock and food processing. The economic pressure is changing the view of conservative politicians, who had been treating immigration as a cultural issue rather than an economic one, Lake said.

Reform is needed, especially in California, because increased border security and drug cartel violence is deterring Mexicans from crossing the border to seek work in the United States. Additionally, birth rates in Mexico have been in decline for several years, Lake said, adding, “You can not count on our neighbors in the south to send us our work force.”

Meanwhile, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been quietly conducting audits of employer paperwork. Lake said officers will visit a business and check its employment records and then a month later send the company a letter informing the owner that half his employees cannot legally work in the United States and need to be fired. The government is also expected to soon enact mandatory “e-filing” that will make checking a prospective employee’s paperwork as quick to perform as a simple credit check.

What it all means is that employers are having more trouble finding workers for jobs typically held by immigrants, and it’s going to become even harder to keep the ones they have.

Lake said Senate Bill 744, which he estimated as having a better than 50% chance of passing, would address the estimated 11 million undocumented workers living in the United States.

He said many of these immigrants are experienced workers who have been paying taxes and are married with children. The bill would give them a route to legal status as long as they’ve been employed for 100 days or worked 575 hours, paid taxes, haven’t been convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor and pay a $400 fine. These workers would also have to have entered the country prior to Dec. 31, 2012.

If they can comply with the proposed requirements, such workers would receive a “blue card” that would allow them to travel across the border and pursue legal status—but they would have to commit to working in agriculture while waiting to become a citizen. In five years, they could seek legal residency.

The Senate bill is expected to see debate next week. A bill in the U.S. House of Representatives is still in the works, and it’s unclear if lawmakers can compromise on legislation. Lawmakers are fighting about whether to provide health care for those people already in the United States illegally and providing those people with a path toward permanent residency.

Political uncertainty in the House
Lake said any bill in the House would need momentum to pass because many lawmakers are waiting to see how the political winds shift. While Republicans may feel pressure from their conservative base to hold firm on immigration, the national leadership of the party wants to connect with Latino voters after seeing the majority of them vote to re-elect Barack Obama in 2012. “We don’t know where the power center is,” Lake said.

He told growers that if they support immigration reform and an efficient guest-worker program, now is the time to contact their lawmakers and tell them as much. “You need to make noise,” Lake said. “You’ll only have yourself to blame if you don’t.”

John Aguirre, president of the California Association of Winegrape Growers, attended Friday’s meeting and said he shared Lake’s assessment of the situation that it was a critical chance for immigration reform. He said the Senate bill appears to be the best solution possible, but it’s crucial that something gets done in both the Senate and the House this summer. “We’ve got to take the opportunity now to get something in place,” he said.

Aguirre also said he perceives a tension between Republicans looking to appease their conservative constituents and pressure from national leadership to soften on immigration a bit. He said the association would be making it clear that growers need better federal laws in place to help improve the labor situation. “We’re going to be pushing very hard on that,” he said.

The winegrowers group also awarded its board chairman, John Balletto, with the group’s Viticulture Award of Excellence. Balletto is the owner of Balletto Vineyard & Winery, which includes 600 acres of vines in the southern Russian River Valley. Balletto has served seven years on the board of the growers’ group, including three years as chairman. He said he has always enjoyed th e efficiency of the group as well the good collaboration it shares with the Sonoma County Vintners and the Sonoma County Tourism group. “I am fortunate to be able to work and serve with so many great people in our industry and on the grape commission board.”

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 $708 million
5%
$7,844 million
6%
November 2013 $673 million $7,428 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 $274 million
21%
$1,799 million
16%
November 2013 $225 million $1,558 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
November 2014 127
-5%
226
15%
November 2013 134 196
     
 
MORE » Released on 12.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

FEATURES
 

Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • January 7
     
    Putting Your Brand to Work
     
  • January 9-18
     
    Icewine Festival
     
  • January 13-16
     
    VinCO
     
  • January 15
     
    WineFlavor 101B
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Grape Industry Lukewarm on Immigration Act »
 
A band-aid it may be but instead of the negative tone of this article which...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Oregon Wine Institute Plans for the Future »
 
When Mark is involved, things are going to work out just great! We miss the...
Reader: Peter Bell
 
Article: Spanish Cooper Sells Chinese Oak »
 
I would love to find Us wineries using the Chinese oak barrels. Do you know...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Prohibition Laws Linger 81 Years Later »
 
Trader Joe's (Union Square) and Whole Foods (Upper West Side) both have wine shops attached...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Prohibition Laws Linger 81 Years Later »
 
Maybe the economy could use another boost by repealing the post-prohibitionary laws too. Make it...
Reader: csm noble
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2015 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 Director Of Hospitalit...
 Napa, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Skilled Cellar Worker ...
 Santa Rosa, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Public Relations Accou...
 San Francisco, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Portfolio Marketing Ma...
 White Plains, NY
Sales and Marketing
 Midwest Regional Sales...
 Midwest Usa, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Vineyard Manager
 St. Helena, CA
Vineyards
 International Marketin...
 St. Helena, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Sales Representatives
 North And South, CA
Sales and Marketing
 On-Call Chef
 Rutherford, CA
General Administration and
 Winery Estate Gardens ...
 Rutherford, CA
General Administration and
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.