This Monday we honor American workers by celebrating Labor Day. We at Oakland Rising have beenwatching with anticipation the outcome of Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez’ bill to expand overtime protections to California farmworkers. The bill passed yesterday and is now awaiting Governor Brown’s signature.

There are more than 825,000 farmworkers in California who would be affected by the new law, which would begin in 2019 to phase in the new overtime rules. The majority of these workers are Latino and Asian, and many are immigrants. The passage of this overtime bill would be a major win for racial, economic and immigrant justice.

Farmworkers (and domestic workers) were largely excluded from the worker protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which created a standard work week, banned child labor, and created overtime protections. Leaving out domestic and agricultural workers was a compromise that helped President Roosevelt to secure the support of Southern members of Congress for the legislation. Most domestic and agricultural workers, then as now, were people of color, and have been deprived of overtime protections as well as other worker protections as a result of being excluded from coverage under FLSA.

California is one of only a handful of states that require any overtime pay at all for agricultural workers. Farmworkers are currently eligible for overtime pay after 10 hours of work or 60 hours in a week, as opposed to 8/40 hours like other comparable workers. The bill, if signed by the Governor, would allow farmworkers to receive overtime pay after 8 hours of work.

Oakland Rising is excited by this development, and that California would continue to be a national leader on worker rights by ensuring that the workers in one of our state’s most critical sectors can afford to live in this great state.

Check out a great video about the overtime issue and support the campaign of the United Farm Workers by clicking here.

 – Shanthi Gonzales