YAKIMA, Wash. - Two state agencies have reached a joint settlement with a California labor contractor accused of violating state wage and labor regulations when it brought temporary agricultural workers from Thailand to the Yakima Valley last year.
The settlement was announced Thursday - one day after farmworker advocates urged Gov. Christine Gregoire to bar Global Horizons of Los Angeles from operating in Washington state.
Global Horizons has brought more than 100 temporary agricultural workers from Thailand to the Yakima Valley each of the past two summers under the federal H-2A guest-worker program. The program allows a labor contractor to bring in foreign workers if it can prove workers can't be found locally.
Area farmers have said the program is needed to ease a local labor shortage. Farmworker advocates contend no such shortage exists.
State agencies charged Global Horizons with violating state wage and labor regulations last year.
Specifically the state's Labor and Industries and Employment Security departments faulted the company for failing to pay back wages to 136 Thai workers, violating 11 state codes and failing to comply with basic requirements of state laws designed to protect workers, such as providing adequate housing.