Published: Wed, August 31, 2016
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Why California's New Farmworker Overtime Bill May Not Mean Bigger Paychecks


Farmers vowed to legislators that, if the law passed, they would simply not work their employees more than eight hours a day, to avoid the overtime pay, thus reducing income for those workers who receive a base hourly wage, and often a per-piece rate, for the additional two hours of work.

If signed into law by Brown, California, the largest US agricultural producer, would the first state in the country to require farmers to pay overtime to laborers who work more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week.

California farmworkers now earn overtime after 10 hours a day or after working 60 hours a week.

After pouring onto the sidewalks around the State Capitol in Sacramento and filling the Assembly chamber as debate continued on an overtime bill said to "be a game changer" for California agriculture, farm groups on Monday reacted quickly and in unison to the bill's passage.

Opponents argue the seasonal nature of farm work does not lend itself to overtime. This week the Assembly approved that bill on a 44-32 vote.

"It seems to me a simple equation: a fair day's pay for a fair day's work", says Democrat Asm. Brown will once again consider historic farmworker legislation after the Assembly approved a proposal requiring farmworkers to receive the same overtime pay as other hourly workers, Monday, Aug. 29, 2016. "These are facts that supporters of the bill conveniently chose to overlook", Nassif said.

But other farmworkers are nervous about California farmers' claims that the higher overtime pay could hurt them economically and outprice California products from the marketplace in favor of crops grown in other states and countries.

Despite that the overtime bill gives growers seemingly more than enough time to comply with the new overtime pay regulations-until 2022 for large farms and until 2025 for farms with 25 employees or fewer-the state's ag lobby has resorted to the same overdramatic, sky-is-falling arguments that employed by any industry battling against similar wage legislation. If Governor Brown Signs it, the bill becomes law.

The bill was previously passed in the state Senate 21-14.

Last Thursday, the votes to pass the measure weren't there, prompting a scheduled Assembly vote to be canceled.

He fears the bill might force him to cut his employees' hours and ultimately their pay.

"We'll figure out how to do more with less labor or we'll have to hire more people", said Merwin.

"We were outraged", Isom said. Thousands of workers walked off farms in 1970, picketing for farm owners to recognize and negotiate fair labor conditions with the union that Chavez had established almost a decade earlier.

Under Assembly Bill 1708, California would, for the first time, treat the purchasing and selling of sex as different crimes, allowing for different penalties. "1066, combined with the added negative impacts tied to the recently passed increases to California's Minimum Wage".

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