H2A Users Face New Minimum Wage

The department of Labor Employment and Training Administration recently published rules concerning the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). This is the lowest wage that H2A employers must pay workers. This increase is much steeper than in past years. The new wage goes into effect tomorrow, January 9, 2019. IF you are a user of H2A you need to be aware of this change. Any work that takes place starting tomorrow must be paid at the higher rate.

The new rates for NC and VA is $12.25 up from the current $11.46. SC, AL and GA are all $11.13 up from $10.95. Florida actually goes down to $11.24 from $11.29. Remember this is only the wage for H2A employers and NOT a federal minimum wage.

H2A is a last ditch program if you cannot find workers in traditional manner. If you are not an H2A employer, please disregard this article. There only a hand full of gins that use H2A but this is important and we wanted to make sure all of you are aware of this change.

There has been a law suit filed and motion for an injunction to try to stop this from going in but it hasn’t been picked up by the court as of this writing. We hope this will get injoined but right now the new wages go up for work beginning tomorrow. IF this changes, we will update this article. Stay tuned.

Senator Jones visits New Gin

Rich Lindsey shows Senator Doug Jones around the new Cherokee Gin.

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) visited the site of the new Cherokee Gin in Centre, AL yesterday. The Senator was making several stops around the state this week prior to spending time with his family over Thanksgiving. The owners and staff of the gin were on site to give Senator Jones around the gin which is currently under construction outside the city of Centre, AL. Along with the Senator a few of his staff, local media and city leaders were also on hand.

The owners and staff of Cherokee Gin with Senator Doug Jones(center).

Cherokee Gin, the last gin in Cherokee county, is currently ginning on their gin in town. Rich Lindsey, manager of the gin, expects the new facility to be running sometime in early to mid-December. When it opens, it will be one of the highest capacity gins in the SE.

The gin is an all Alabama affair with all the equipment built in Alabama. There seems to be a theme with Cherokee Machinery in Cherokee Gin which is in Cherokee County, AL. We all look forward to seeing it run.

This gin is one of two gins to be built from the ground up this year in Alabama indicating a resurgence for cotton in the state. A more detailed profile of the two new gins will be forthcoming.

OSHA Clarifies Earlier Rules on Drug Testing and Incentives

Way back in 2016 (before the election) OSHA published a pretty comprehensive rule that affected many, if not all, businesses in the US. The rule was fairly controversial initially but not for the stated purpose of the rule. The rule was the electronic reporting rule that required all large and many small companies (including cotton gins) to report their OSHA 300 data to the agency each year. Included in that rule, almost as an afterthought, were two additional rules that dealt with incentive programs and drug testing as they play a roll in timely reporting of injuries by employees.

The additional rules known as the anti-retaliation rules, initially barred employers from post Continue reading

USDA Estimate Shows Hurricane Damage to SE

In the first Crop Production Report since Hurricane Michael and the first good estimates since Hurricane Florence, the USDA has reduced the Southeast’s cotton production from 5.691 Million bales to 4.31 Million bales. That’s a total reduction of 1.381 Million bales from the September 1 report. Most estimates had over a million bale reduction but I’m not sure it was expected to drop that much.

All Southeastern states indicated significant reductions to crops from the September 1 to November 1. Alabama showed a reduction of 215,000 bales or 19.6%. Florida dropped from Continue reading

NCC Disaster Loss Survey

Please see the below Memo from the National Cotton Council regarding losses from hurricanes Florence and Michael. The best way for your organizations to represent the loss is through real, actual data. Please forward the link below to your producers and encourage their participation.

DSF

October 25, 2018
 
To:                   Cotton Industry Members Affected by Hurricanes Florence and Michael
 
From:              Gary Adams
NCC President and CEO
 
Subject:          Crop Loss and Input Cost Survey
 
As a follow-up to conference calls that the National Cotton Council conducted with cotton industry leaders affected by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael, we sent the following link to the NCC’s website for providing estimates of crop losses on an individual farm or within a county.
 
 
Growers
You are strongly encouraged to go to this link at your earliest convenience.  Damage estimates can be detailed by either giving pre- and post-hurricane yields or specifying losses in pounds or percentages.  An estimate of the number of cotton acres on your operation will be helpful.  We also are asking for information on input costs for this crop, as well as feedback on damages to other crops, structures, equipment or other infrastructure.  Please note the name of the storm. The information that you provide will be anonymous, as we are not asking for names.
 
Ginners
Ginners are asked to pass on this link to their grower customers and encourage them to participate in this survey.  Ginners also may use the link to provide an assessment of crop losses in their trade territories and report damage to structures, equipment or other infrastructure.
 
These estimates of crop losses and input costs will be very helpful for the NCC’s use in Congressional and Administration contacts as potential avenues for assistance are explored.

Partial Overtime Exemption Can Lead to Confusion

During out state meetings recently, one of the topics that seemed to cause the most confusion was dealing with overtime and how to pay it. This article will attempt to refresh everyone’s memory on how that works for gins.

Cotton Gins are in a unique position of having two partial overtime exemptions that give ginners the option of paying overtime after 40 hours (normal) or over 48 hours (partial exemption). There are two code sections in the Fair Labor Standards act that discuss the partial overtime exemption for gins. Sections 13(h) and 13(i) are the code sections in the law that we refer to for overtime exemptions. Gins may use these exemptions for up to 14 weeks.

Section 13(h) is the rule dealing with jobs that are necessary and incidental to the ginning process. A list of those types off jobs are contained in the document linked at the bottom of this article. Think of these as the people that you hire that aren’t running machinery. You can Continue reading