California expands overtime pay to farmworkers

Farmer Joe Del Bosque walks by a cantaloupe field on April 23, 2015 in Firebaugh, California.   (Getty Images)

Farmer Joe Del Bosque walks by a cantaloupe field on April 23, 2015 in Firebaugh, California. (Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO – California farm workers will get overtime pay if they’re on the job more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week, under a bill authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, and signed into law Monday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The new overtime standards will be phased in over four years, beginning in 2019. Current law calls for overtime for farm workers to kick in after a 10-hour day or a 60-hour workweek.

Starting in 2019, the 10-hour-a-day work period without overtime pay will be cut by a half-hour every year. By 2022, farm workers will be eligible for overtime compensation if they work more than eight hours a day.

“This is a truly historic day in California. Thanks to an incredible coalition of workers, lawmakers, labor, environmentalists and individually committed Californians, we have finally righted a 78-year wrong for farm workers,” Gonzalez said. “The hundreds of thousands of men and women who work in California’s fields, dairies and ranches feed the world and anchor our economy. They will finally be treated equally under the law. It is a good day.”

Jim Araby, executive director of the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, wrote: “California took a monumental and meaningful step today in affording human dignity and equal rights for all. Farm laborers are instrumental to California’s economy, and are invaluable members of our communities.”