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State lawmakers approve better overtime benefits for farmworkers

August 20, 2012 |  5:05 pm

State lawmakers approve better overtime benefits for farm workersCalifornia farmworkers would receive the same overtime benefits as employees in other industries under a measure approved Monday by the state Senate and sent to the governor for consideration.

Requested by the United Farm Workers Union, the measure removes an exemption for agricultural workers from the overtime and meal period requirements of labor law. Farmworkers would get higher overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a day or 40 hours in a week.

Currently, they receive overtime only if they work more than 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week.

"This measure provides the same protections for farmworkers that other employees have long been entitled to," said Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) AB-1313 was introduced by Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa).

The bill passed on a 21-17 vote after Republican lawmakers representing agricultural areas said it would hurt workers if farm owners bring in another shift of workers or mechanical harvesting devices rather than pay higher overtime rates sooner.

"It’s a wrong-headed measure. It doesn’t really help the agricultural workers who want to get the time in and return to their families"’ said Sen. Doug La Malfa (R-Richvale), a rice farmer, during the floor debate.


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Photo: Farmworkers line up as they leave a field of chili peppers for a break at a farm in the Bakersfield area last year. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times