SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California farmworkers would be paid overtime after working an eight-hour day or 40 hours in a week, the same as other non-management employees, under a bill approved by the state Senate on Monday over the objections of Republican lawmakers.
Farm laborers currently are paid overtime after working 10 hours in a day or a 60-hour week under a legal exemption that dates to 1941.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed a similar bill two years ago, but backers hope Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, will sign it.
"We have overtime, eight-hour days, for a very simple reason. People are entitled to some period for recreation, for rest, for relief from the work that they do," said Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who carried the bill. "It's fundamental questions of fairness, equity and simple common sense."
Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, said AB1313 will end up harming laborers because farm owners will cut their hours or switch to crops that can be harvested mechanically, rather than pay overtime.
"We will lose jobs. The price of certain food commodities will go up," she said.
Sen. Doug La Malfa, R-Willows, said many migrant workers in his experience want to work longer hours six days a week.
"It's a wrongheaded measure. It doesn't really help ag workers who want to get that time in to help return home to their families," La Malfa said.
The bill is supported by the United Farm Workers but opposed by growers and agribusiness organizations. The industry employs as many as 450,000 workers in California in the peak harvest months of August and September.
"These workers like this. It gives them flexibility," said Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto. "After 10 hours, everyone gets their overtime."
The bill was approved on a party-line, 22-15 vote and now goes to the Assembly.
The governor's office would not say how Brown would handle the bill if it reaches his desk.