E2SSB 5438

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

C 441 L 19

Synopsis as Enacted

Brief Description: Establishing the office of agricultural and seasonal workforce services within the employment security department.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Ways & Means (originally sponsored by Senators McCoy, Saldaña, Conway, Van De Wege, Keiser, Rolfes, Wellman, Dhingra, Hasegawa and Kuderer; by request of Employment Security Department).

Senate Committee on Labor & Commerce

Senate Committee on Ways & Means

House Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards

House Committee on Appropriations

Background: The federal Immigration and Nationality Act provides for various classifications of non-immigrant visas. Classifications for temporary guest workers include the H-2A classification for seasonal agricultural workers. The H-2A program allows agricultural employers to bring in foreign workers temporarily when there are insufficient qualified U.S. workers. Employers using H-2A workers must pay specified rates of pay, provide the workers housing and transportation, guarantee employment for a specified period of time, and meet other requirements.

A prospective employer of H-2A workers submits a U.S. Department of Labor form ETA 790 to the Employment Security Department (ESD) and upon approval, ESD initiates recruitment of domestic workers. The employer also submits an application to the U.S. Department of Labor, which certifies the employment of H-2A workers. ESD also conducts surveys to help establish pay rates, and conducts field checks to review wages, hours, and other working conditions. The state departments of Health and Labor and Industries have regulatory responsibility over temporary farmworker housing.

ESD predicts more than 30,000 H-2A workers will request to work in Washington during 2019. ESD receives an average annual funding level of about $300,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Summary: The Office of Agricultural and Seasonal Workforce Services is established within ESD to:

The ESD may not process an H-2A application if the:

The ESD commissioner must appoint an advisory committee to review issues related to H-2A workers. The committee members will be:

The departments of Labor and Industries, Health, and Agriculture each have one nonvoting ex officio member on the committee.

The committee will provide comment on rule making, policies, implementation of this act, and initiatives, and study other issues.

The committee must submit a report, in even years, to the Governor and the Legislature by October 31st. The report must:

Committee members serve without compensation, but are entitled to reimbursement for travel expenses. The committee may utilize ESD staff and facilities without charge.

Votes on Final Passage:







(House amended)




(Senate concurred)


July 28, 2019