published on August 29, 2016 - 7:56 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff
Today the California Assembly voted by a margin of 44 to 32 to institute conventional overtime rules for agricultural laborers.

The bill, AB 1066 — which was recently revived after dying in the Assembly earlier this summer — now heads to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill would do away with the current 10-hour work day, 60-hour work week for farmworkers, replacing it with an 8-hour work day, 40-hour work week.

Local elected officials and farming interests said the measure will devastate the industry, and actually lead to farm laborers seeing reduced hours.

“Over the weekend I met with farmworkers throughout my district in the fields they work and I was touched by their stories and how important these jobs are to them, their families, and their future,” said Assemblymember Devon Mathis (R-Visalia. “Everyone I spoke to asked me to vote against this bill and they understood that if AB-1066 passed, it would equal lost hours and wages for them. I wonder how many of my colleagues in the Assembly have taken the time to meet these artisans where they work? Unfortunately, I doubt it is many.”

Mathis said the average farm worker could lose about $1,200 per month in compensation if it passes into law. The transition is expected to be complete by 2022.

“The whole world eats the food provided by California farmworkers, yet we don’t guarantee fair overtime pay for the backbreaking manual labor they put in to keep us fed,” said Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who most recently reintroduced the bill. “We know this is the right thing to do, and thanks to the hard work of an incredible coalition throughout the state and across the country, we’re now one step closer to finally providing our hard-working farmworkers the dignity they deserve.”

The vote was largely split on party lines, with Central Valley Republicans in Sacramento voting against it, and Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Kingsburg) voting in favor.

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