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U.S. SUGAR ANNOUNCES NEW METHOD OF PAYING CANE CUTTERS

 U.S. SUGAR ANNOUNCES NEW METHOD OF PAYING CANE CUTTERS
 CLEWISTON, Fla., Aug. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. Sugar Corporation


today announced a dramatic change in the way it will pay its H2A guest workers who cut sugarcane. Starting with the 1992-1993 harvest season, the company will pay on a piece rate, per ton instead of the traditional task rate, which has prevailed in the industry for more than four decades.
 The change will mean that workers will be paid for the actual net tons of sugarcane cut each day, measured at the mills. Workers will still be guaranteed by a minimum hourly wage of $5.68. The incentive system is designed to allow the average worker at U.S. Sugar to earn $6.83 per hour.
 Robert Buker, senior vice president of U.S. Sugar, said the new system of pay is being adopted in response to a series of lawsuits about sugarcane cutters' wages and a recent decision in the Bygrave case in which a Palm Beach County circuit judge has ruled that the sugar industry's clearance order requesting off shore workers calls for pay by the ton. Buker said the new per ton piece rate system is fundamentally different from the task rate system at issue in the recent court ruling. The industry, including U.S. Sugar, has said it will appeal that decision.
 "This is a last ditch effort on U. S. Sugars' part to save the guest worker program," said Buker. All other companies have announced they are abandoning hand cutting, which last year brought approximately 7,500 Jamaican workers to the U.S. for the five month harvest.
 "This new system of pay is a system which has been sought by workers' advocates," Buker said. Under the prior task rate system, farm supervisors estimate the amount of time it will take for a worker to cut sugarcane in a field and establish a price per row to be cut. Critics have said this method is too subjective and subject to abuse. Under the new system, workers' pay will be based on the actual amount of sugarcane cut, as weighed at the sugar mill.
 U.S. Sugar's electronic timekeeping system, fully implemented last year, will still be maintained, so that workers will be paid the higher of the piece rate for the tons cut or the minimum hourly wage rate of $5.68 per hour. U.S. Sugar sugarcane cutters last year averaged $6.54 per hour.
 With supplements and working holiday pay, workers will receive approximately $5.25 per ton of cane cut. The average cane cutter historically cuts more than 1.3 tons per hour and therefore will earn approximately $6.83 per hour under the new system. This amount includes a six percent per ton wage supplement.
 Buker said he expects the company's labor cost to go up due to an increase in the minimum wage rate from $5.38 to $5.68 per hour.
 The new system of pay must be approved by the U.S. Department of Labor and will be incorporated in the company's clearance order for the coming harvest season. U.S. Sugar has announced a reduction in its H2A work force this year of approximately 1,100 workers. It expects to bring approximately 2100 workers from Jamaica in October.
 -0- 8/20/92
 /CONTACT: Otis Wragg of Wragg & Casas, 305-372-1234/ CO: U.S. Sugar Corporation ST: Florida IN: FOD SU:


AW-JB -- FL003 -- 1684 08/20/92 11:51 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 20, 1992
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