As we we celebrate Labor Day weekend, please remember that some workers are still not entitled to the 8 hour work day that many of us take for granted.
It has been 74 years since farm workers and domestic workers were left out of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the landmark federal law setting minimum wages and overtime for nearly all American workers.
To win votes from Southern lawmakers back in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was forced to exempt farm and domestic workers. Nearly all of those workers in the Southern U.S. then were African Americans. Today in California and across the country, most farm workers are Latinos.
The United Farm Workers is sponsoring AB 1313, by Assemblymember Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa), to provide overtime pay for farm workers after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. This bill passed the state Senate and will soon be on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Can you please send him an email today asking him to sign this vital bill?
The exclusion of farm workers from overtime after eight hours was wrong in 1938. It is wrong now. The time has come for it to end. Progress was made in 1976 when Gov Jerry Brown permitted California’s farm workers to receive overtime after 10 hours of work. But there is more to be done. California provides 80 percent of the nation’s fresh produce and as a result its agricultural laws set the standard for the nation. Tell Gov. Brown to end this shameful legacy of racism in California by signing AB 1313.
Bill to end shameful legacy of racism for farm workers can soon go to Calif. governor this Labor Day weekend
SACRAMENTO – To mark the historic nature of legislation to provide farm workers with long-overdue overtime protections, Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez and United Farm Workers president Arturo Rodriguez will join farm workers from throughout California on Tuesday, July 20th at 10 a.m. to physically “march” the proposed law from the desk of the state Senate to the desk of Governor Schwarzenegger.
For nearly 70 years, as a matter of custom and law, the state of California has discriminated against the farm worker. The men and women who work in the fields are the only hourly wage earners in the state who do not receive overtime pay after 8 hours of labor a day, 40 hours of labor a week.
SB 1121, authored by Sen. Florez, seeks to end this archaic practice that treats one class, one people, different than all others. Earlier this month, the state legislature passed the measure. All that is needed for the bill to become law is the governor’s signature.
“Gov. Schwarzenegger has the power to forever wipe this shame off the books,” Sen. Florez said. “By doing so, he will send a clear message that it is not okay to treat a labor force of immigrants differently than the others, that he, as an immigrant who worked under the sun and became the embodiment of the California Dream, understands that such a disparity cannot exist side-by-side with our ideals.”
“My profound hope is that he will seize this historic moment and sign the bill into law,” Florez said.
Tuesday’s news conference and march to the Governor’s office will begin at 10:00 a.m. in the offices of Majority Leader Dean Florez, State Capitol Room 313.
SACRAMENTO – Actor Marin Sheen says “It is fair and just…” in his call for standard overtime pay for farm workers. Sheen adds his support to a measure by Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) that extends overtime pay provisions to farm workers who work more than eight hours in a day. This measure has passed out of the Legislature and is heading to the desk of Governor Schwarzenegger.
Sheen has been a longtime supporter of farm worker rights, marching with Cesar Chavez in 1965. In a letter to Governor Schwarzenegger, Sheen writes, “This measure’s time has come at long last!” His letter of support joins that of editorial boards throughout California, including those of the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Sacramento Bee.
Farm workers are currently the only California employees who are exempt from receiving overtime when they work more than eight hours in a day, although they often labor 12 or more hours a day at harvest time. SB 1121 would simply remove that exemption and treat them as any other workers are treated.
Sheen will be available to answer questions via telephone.
Please email Janice Tsai ([email protected]) in the office of Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez to set up an appointment.