As we reported previously, CA recently passed landmark climate change legislation.
This week, the state made national headlines again with the signing into law of AB 1066, which will expand overtime pay for farm workers.
As the Los Angeles Times explained:
“Gov. Jerry Brown signed historic legislation Monday that would gradually add hundreds of thousands of California farmworkers to the ranks of those who are paid overtime after eight hours on the job or 40 hours in a single week, closing out one of the year’s most intense political battles in Sacramento.”
As explained in the full bill text, AB 1066 is an act to amend certain sections of the California Labor Code.
The bill’s introduction states:
“Existing law sets wage, hour, meal break requirements, and other working conditions for employees and requires an employer to pay overtime wages as specified to an employee who works in excess of a workday or workweek, as defined, and imposes criminal penalties for the violation of these requirements. Existing law exempts agricultural employees from these requirements…”
AB 1066 continues:
“This bill would remove the exemption for agricultural employees regarding hours, meal breaks, and other working conditions, including specified wage requirements, and would create a schedule that would phase in overtime requirements for agricultural workers, as defined, over the course of 4 years, from 2019 to 2022, inclusive…
“The bill would create a state-mandated local program by including agricultural employees as a class of employees protected by criminal penalties under existing law.”
KRCR put it more simply:
“Currently, if farm employees work a 10-hour day they start accruing overtime pay after those 10 hours instead of eight like most employees in California.
“The bill would change their 10-hour day to an 8-hour day and they would start getting overtime after eight hours instead.”
AB 1066 was passed by the state Senate on August 22, 2016, with a 21-14 vote. The bill was then approved by the state Assembly on August 29, 2016 by a vote of 44-32.
AB 1066 officially became state law on September 12, 2016 with the signature of Gov. Jerry Brown.
The principal driving force behind AB 1066 was Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who is pictured below.
Image credit: Jazmine Ulloa/Los Angeles Times
In a statement released by her office, Gonzalez explained:
“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.
“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.”
Another of the bill’s champions was Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), who co-authored the bill and was vocal in his support on Twitter (among other channels):
Glad that a bill I'm coauthoring, AB1066, got out of the Senate! CA's farmworkers should have parity in overtime pay pic.twitter.com/iO3kX3CD16
— Phil Ting (@PhilTing) August 23, 2016
In addition to backing from within the state legislature, AB 1066 drew support from a host of leaders across the country, including federal officials and agricultural unions.
U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez tweeted his support last month:
Farmworkers that put food on our table deserve same protections that other industries have had for years. CA bill would ensure fairness.
— Tom Perez (@LaborSec) August 30, 2016
The United Farm Workers union also supported AB 1066.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the organization’s president, Arturo Rodriguez, said “he was grateful to the lawmakers who voted for the legislation and to Brown for ‘making a tough decision like this and changing the course of history.'”
“AB 1066 ‘would give license to farmworkers in other states fighting for the same thing,’ Rodriguez said.”
“‘I’m crying tears of joy after so many years that farmworkers have worked so hard to win a significant victory like this that will dramatically change their lives.'”
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