Will Governor Brown Do the Right Thing for Farmworkers?

by on September 2, 2016 · 1 comment

in California, Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Health, History, Labor, Organizing, Politics

Via WineWaterWatch.org

Via WineWaterWatch.org

By Doug Porter

After two years and more than five thousand proposed laws, resolutions, and constitutional amendments, the current version of the California Legislature wrapped up its session in frenzied fashion.

Wednesday, August 31st saw more than one hundred bills up for consideration. Now it’s up to the Governor to say yea or nay on legislation affecting all aspects of life in California.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-80), who successfully shepherded 19 of 20 bills through the legislature this year, is leaving nothing up to chance with her hard-fought victory on AB 1066, gradually phasing in standards for farmerworker overtime.

She’s started a petition drive for voters to let the Governor know they want this bill signed. Its message is short and sweet:

I stand with thousands of farm workers throughout California in urging Governor Brown to provide full consideration of AB 1066. Every day, men and women harvest our food by working in extremely harsh weather conditions; however, they are the only hourly employees in the state that do not receive overtime pay until having worked a 10-hour work day.

This treatment is not only unfair, but can lead to dangerous working conditions as farm workers overwork themselves to make ends meet. AB 1066 would change this by ensuring that farm workers are treated like any other hourly employee. I strongly encourage the Governor to consider for this very important measure.

Marco Breton at the Sacramento Bee explained the reasons for the push by Gonzalez:

It’s not over yet. Gov. Jerry Brown still has to sign overtime pay for farmworkers into law, and there is no guarantee that he will. This particular issue is just that divisive.

Simply getting a farmworker overtime bill to Brown’s desk has been an ideological war reflecting the ascension of some Latino legislators, the weaknesses of the state Republican Party, and the years of political failure surrounding this issue.

The unspoken driver of this battle has been a lack of federal immigration reform, which has prevented the establishment of a larger, legalized workforce in California. As a result, there has been growing pressure to more fairly compensate those working long hours in California’s fields – and here we are…

…all eyes now to turn to Brown – who is entirely unpredictable. Brown has shown a tendency to worry about business interests, and at more than $50 billion in annual revenues, agriculture is among the most influential in California.

Brown has thirty days to make a decision.

Some possible insight on the horse trading involving AB 1066 (legislation under a different name presumed to be dead in the water just a few months ago) come via a Facebook posting by labor activist Brian Polejes.

No legislator will admit it, but the price for passage of AB 1066, the farmworker overtime bill, was support for AB 2844, which would ban the state from doing business with any entity that honors the boycott with the apartheid state Israel. Gov. Brown should sign the worthwhile AB 1066 and veto AB 2844.


This is an excerpt from Doug’s daily column at San Diego Free Press.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

George September 2, 2016 at 3:59 pm

This bill will make huge agrobusiness very happy. Agrobiz can afford the expensive machines that put farm workers out of work. Small farmers will go out of business.


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