AB 1066, Overtime for Farm Workers, is Well Overdue

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An Editorial by Reporting San Diego

August 29, 2016 (San Diego) We are not neutral on this. We want the Legislature to pass AB 1066. This would do a few critical things for farm workers. Some of which might come as a surprise to urban residents in the States. The most critical step is that it would give workers overtime pay.

Most of us live in cities and have lost all connection to how our food is produced. Workers are tasked to rising before the sun is up, to harvest your food and my food. It would also cut the threshold for overtime pay from 10 hours to 8 hours by 2022. It would bring the rural workforce in line with the rest of the salaried workforce in the state. So workers would have to get time and a half, like the rest of us, at the 8 hour point.

Farm hands have been exploited for decades, and large agricultural firms like it that way. They like it that way becuase they benefit from a system that has lagged behind American labor for decades. It is only in the 1960s when Cesar Chavez organized workers that we saw some standards. Chavez got the support of among others Bobby Kennedy, as well as house wives who refused to buy grapes.

The time is right for field hands to reach the same treatment as urban workers and be paid for their work at times and a half after eight hours. These are back breaking jobs, usually done by the most vulnerable among us. They are paid as little as the big farm owners can get away with. It is time.

We at Reporting San Diego applaud Lorena Gonzales for brining this bill to the floor. It failed in June by 4 votes. It barely squeezed out of the Senate last week. It is time. Si se puede, yes we can.

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