More protection could be on the way for California farm workers

Farmworker (FILE)
Posted at 4:38 AM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 08:57:30-04

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KERO) — More protection could be on its way for California farm workers. Senator Alex Padilla has introduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act.

If passed it would provide more payment for workers on small farms, ranches, and livestock production plants.

Currently, depending on the type of agriculture and the state you're in there can be exemptions for workers receiving overtime or even minimum wage.

“It’s long overdue that we fix our nation’s labor laws to include the farm workers who have been unjustly excluded from their protections,” said Senator Padilla. “Earlier this month, I experienced a small dose of the demanding work that farm workers do to feed millions of families across the country and strengthen our economy. These migrants deserve to be treated with dignity and paid fairly for their difficult and essential work. The Senate must pass the Fairness for Farm Workers Act to finally bring economic justice to these workers.”

The proposal would require overtime pay for all agricultural workers and it would remove the "small farm" exemption for paying workers minimum wage with an exception for family farms.

“Farmworkers undertake back-breaking labor and face some of the most hazardous working conditions with few federal workplace safety protections,” said Representative Raul Grijalva. “For too long, they have experienced long standing inequities from lack of wages and overtime pay. With the Fairness in Farm Workers Act, we can ensure that farmworkers receive the wages and overtime pay they deserve for the work they do to put food on the tables of our constituents. I’m proud to partner with Senator Padilla on this critical legislation that will remedy decades of economic inequality and finally update the Fair Labor Standards Act to ensure it works for all workers.”

The bill is currently co-sponsored by other Democratic lawmakers including California's Dianne Feinstein.

The Fairness for Farm Workers Act:

  • Requires time-and-a-half overtime pay for all agricultural workers, with additional compliance time for small farms;
  • Removes exemptions to overtime for agriculture generally and ends the exemptions for overtime and minimum wage requirements for certain small farms, hand harvest laborers, non-local minors, and range livestock production. Maintains the family farm exemption to these requirements;
  • Removes exemptions to overtime for workers employed in irrigation projects, livestock auctions incidental to farm work, small country grain elevators, certain sugar processing, certain types of intra-state transportation and preparation for transportation of fruits and vegetables, cotton ginning, and cotton compressing.