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Farmworkers pray for Schwarzenegger to sign overtime bill

July 20, 2010 | 12:15 pm

There was some old-time religion in front of the governor’s office Monday as about 50 members of the United Farm Workers knelt and prayed for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill that would provide overtime pay for agricultural employees.

The call-and-response prayer session was led by a Catholic priest in the Capitol hallway at the governor's door.

The bill by Sen. Dean Florez (D-Shafter) would require that farmers pay time-and-a-half after a worker has put in eight hours on the job, the same conditions that apply to almost all other hourly workers in California. Current law allows such overtime pay only after 10 hours' labor in a single day.

"Overtime pay after eight hours is long overdue," said UFW President Arturo Rodriguez. "Farmers are not second-class citizens."

The governor has 12 days to act on the Florez bill, which passed the Legislature earlier this month and was hand-delivered to Schwarzenegger's office by Florez on Tuesday morning. Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear declined to say what the governor might do with the legislation.

He noted that Schwarzenegger, an Austrian immigrant who once worked as a bricklayer in Los Angeles, has a record of supporting the enforcement of farmworker health and safety regulations.

-- Marc Lifsher in Sacramento