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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: U.S. Department of Labor

June 4, 2016 (San Diego)— By a slim two-vote margin, a measure that would have given farm workers the same overtime pay as workers in other industries failed to win passage in the state Assembly  after emotional testimony on both sides.

In non-agricultural businesses, workers are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than eight hours a day or over 40 hours a week.  Although federal law does not mandate any overtime pay for farm laborers, California does require overtime pay for those working more than 10 hours a day or over 60 hours a week.  Assembly Bill 2757 would have required that farm workers who labor more than 8 hours a day would receive time and a half, while those working over 12 hours a day would receive double pay by 2020.

Farm workers representatives spoke about lifting up workers out of poverty, noting that some currently earn even less than minimum wage. A Los Angeles Times editorial has called California’s current unequal law regarding farm workers ‘ pay “a relic from the past that needs to be fixed.”

But some family farmers voiced worries about losing their businesses and defended the need for long hours during harvest season. 

Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), author of the bill, called supporting it “absolutely the right thing to do.”

But Assemblyman Brian Dahle (R-Bieber) said his dream is to leave a flourishing farm for his children.  He accused the bill’s backers, “You stand in the way of allowing my children to continue their great-grandfather’s aspirations.”

 Among San Diego’s legislators, Democrats Toni Atkins, Mary Salas and Shirley  Weber voted for the bill, while Republicans Brian Jones, Rocky Chavez, Brian Maienschein,  and Marie Waldron  voted against it.






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