A program requiring U.S. workers to get a fair shot at farm jobs should direct notices to newspapers that are closest to the workforce, not to random websites.
That is what the National Newspaper Association (NNA) told the U.S. Department of Labor this week.
A part of the Immigration and Control Act of 1986 requires agricultural employers to make a positive recruitment effort to find US. workers before seeking visa waivers to hire foreign workers. This effort in the past required ads in daily newspapers, but now the Labor Department says it wants to allow employers to post the notices on a “widely viewed” but non-specific website instead.
NNA told the Labor Department that a flaw in the existing program is that community newspapers are not used for these notices. Even though the Department of Agriculture finds that most farm workers find their jobs within 25 miles of their residences, the notices may appear in large metropolitan newspapers miles away. Using the local community paper would be less expensive for employers and more effective for workers. In general, the use of newspapers and newspaper websites are superior to random websites that employers might choose under the proposed Labor rule. The DOL also is seeking a similar rule for non-ag workers.
NNA also points out the all states have the ability to help employers to easily reach all newspapers in their states, or any subsection of them. The statewide classified programs in many states would be ideal for these recruitment notices.
NNA President Andrew Johnson, publisher of the Dodge County (WI) Pionier, said the proposal showed how easily federal agencies buy into the myth that newspapers are dead.
“Our readership data, and those of other independent analysts, show that newspapers are far from dead,” Johnson said. “People who say they are not reading newspapers certainly are reading them, but the analysts too easily just look at the print measurement. In small towns, print is everything. But all platforms have to be considered, including websites.”
The Labor Department will receive comments on this proposal until Dec. 28. For more information on NNA’s position, see the comments filed with the government this month. They can be found here, here and here.