Farmworker Overtime Gains in California

farm workers
The California Assembly was flooded with farm workers demanding over time pay on Monday, Aug. 29.
The California Assembly on Monday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a hard-fought and historic expansion of overtime rules for farmworkers, but it remains uncertain whether the Democratic governor will sign off on the measure.
“A nearly identical bill fell three votes short of passage on the Assembly floor in May, with 15 Democrats voting against the measure or declining to vote. But on Monday, an amended version of the measure, now contained in Assembly Bill 1066, passed on a 44-32 vote.”

“Agricultural workers already receive some overtime pay under California law thanks to a 2002 state directive that entitles them to extra wages if they work more than 10 hours in a day or more than 60 hours in a week. AB 1066 would expand that to bring it more in line with other industries, offering time-and-a-half pay for working more than eight hours in a day or 40 in a week and double pay for working more than 12 hours a day. The pay boosts would kick in incrementally over four years, and the governor could suspend them for a year if the economy falters.”
Business groups quickly condemned the vote. “We are deeply concerned with the passage of AB 1066 today and the devastating impacts this bill will have on our small, independent farmers and the workers they employ,” said Tom Scott, state executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, Assembly members heard from both farmworkers who forfeited a day’s pay to visit offices and press for the bill and from farm industry representatives, including minority farm owners, who warned lawmakers the measure would devastate small-scale growers and diminish work for laborers.
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Cesar Chavez, the UFW, and Why Unions are Needed

by Duane E. Campbell

On March 31, 2015, Eleven states and numerous cities will hold holidays celebrating labor and Latino leader Cesar Chavez. ChavezConferences, marches and celebrations will occur in numerous cities and particularly in rural areas of the nation. A recent film Cesar Chavez: An American Hero, starring Michael Peña as Cesar Chavez and Rosario Dawson as Dolores Huerta presents important parts of this union story.

The current UFW leadership, as well as former UFW leaders and current DSA Honorary Chairs Eliseo Medina and Dolores Huerta are recognized leaders in the ongoing efforts to achieve comprehensive immigration reform in the nation.

ArturoUFW President Arturo Rodriquez says, “We urge Republicans to abandon their political games that hurt millions of hard-working, taxpaying immigrants and their families, and help us finish the job by passing legislation such as the comprehensive reform bill that was approved by the Senate on a bipartisan vote in June 2013,” Rodriguez said.  Similar compromise proposals, negotiated by the UFW and the nation’s major agricultural employer associations, have passed the U.S. Senate multiple times over the last decade. The same proposal has won majority support in the House of Representatives, even though House GOP leaders have refused to permit a vote on the measure. “The UFW will not rest until the President’s deferred relief is enacted and a permanent immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, is signed into law.” www.UFW.org Continue reading

SB 104: Providing California Farm Workers a 75-Year-Old Protection

By Dylan J. Anderson, United Farm Workers

Recently, both the California Senate and Assembly passed SB 104, “The Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act.” Introduced by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), SB 104 would give the state’s more than 400,000 farm workers an alternative to on-the-job polling place elections to decide whether to join a union. The new option would allow them to fill out state-issued representation ballots in their homes, away from bosses’ threats and other interference. If a simple majority – more than 50 percent – of workers signs the ballots, their jobs would be unionized.

Many workers do not have access to basic things like shade, water, heat training or even breaks during the hot summer days. Without SB 104, nothing will change. Wage and hour violations will continue. Overexposure to pesticides will go unchallenged. Sexual harassment will remain rampant and the health crises caused by a lack of sanitation and lax safety standards will continue to plague farm workers.

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NYC DSAers tell Trader Joe’s to Pay Farmworkers a Fair Wage

By Maria Svart

On Thursday, March 18th, NYC DSAers rallied with activists from Jobs with Justice and the Alliance for Fair Food in front of the Trader Joe’s supermarket in Union Square. We expressed our solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in their fight to get a just wage for the hardworking men and women who pick tomatoes for Trader Joe’s.

This wasn’t my first time standing up for farmworkers. My Young Democratic Socialists chapter at the University of Chicago campaigned to Boot the Bell from the U of C because Taco Bell was refusing to give a penny-per-pound raise to tomato pickers represented by CIW. By now, Taco Bell, Subway, Burger King and even anti-union Whole Foods pay a fair wage to farmworkers.

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UFW Supports New AgJobs bill

Who are America’s farm workers? You don’t see them in the restaurants, grocery stores or farmers’ markets where you buy your food. They are part of an invisible world where the food just appears on the shelves.

Here are some facts about the people who labor in our fields. They work in substandard conditions for wages far below the poverty line. Their real wages have not increased in nearly 30 years. The average farm worker makes just $13,000 per year. Many have no health care and can’t take time off to seek medical care for themselves or their families. They often live in decrepit housing that you wouldn’t even let your dog live in. Unsafe working conditions and injuries on the job are common occurrences. Many employers use the threat of deportation to ensure workers’ silence. Continue reading

Justice for Farmworkers

chavez65ed2On Tuesday, March 31st, Jerry Cohen (UFW General Counsel from 1967-1981) and LeRoy Chatfield will announce a national initiative called LABOR JUSTICE that will seek to reverse 74 years of government-sanctioned racial and economic discrimination directed at farmworkers and domestics because of their exclusion from the protections of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.

So far, more than 150 people from 17 states have written asking to  be added to the  list of Founding Members. If you wish to become a founding member – and can answer YES – to these three questions, you are welcome to participate – but time is of the essence! Continue reading