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Farmworker overtime: long overdue or a disaster for the agriculture industry?

HOLTVILLE, CA - OCTOBER 08:  Mexican agricultural workers cultivate lettuce on a farm on October 8, 2013 in Holtville, California. Thousands of Mexican workers cross the border legally each night from Mexicali, Mexico into Calexico, CA, where they pick up work as agricultural day laborers in California's fertile Imperial Valley. Although the Imperial Valley, irrigated from water diverted from the Colorado River, is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the United States, it has one of the highest unemployment rates in California, at more than 25 percent. Mexican farm workers commute each day from Mexicali to work in the fields for about $9 an hour, which many local U.S. residents shun as too low pay.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
John Moore/Getty Images
Agricultural workers in California. Governor Jerry Brown could approve the first bill in the U.S. that would approve overtime pay for farm workers who’ve worked more than 40 hours a week or eight hour days.

Governor Jerry Brown could approve the first bill in the U.S. that would approve overtime pay for farm workers who’ve worked more than 40 hours a week or eight hour days.

Governor Jerry Brown could approve the first bill in the U.S. that would approve overtime pay for farm workers who’ve worked more than 40 hours a week or eight hour days.

The current rule on overtime states that workers receive extra pay if they’ve worked more than 10 hours a day or more than 60 hours a week.

AB 1066 was passed on Monday by the state legislature and would require farms to phase in  overtime pay for field workers and fruit pickers between 2019 and 2022. Farms that have 25 workers or less would have until 2025 to make the change. But the bill must still be approved by Gov. Brown.

The United Farmworkers Union championed AB 1066. To supporters of the legislation, the transition is long overdue and will be a win for the humane treatment of workers.

But critics of AB 1066 argue the law would hurt both workers and the agricultural economy as a whole, as work is seasonal and farmers may choose to cut worker hours.

What do you think of the bill? Does it support the humane treatment of workers, or will the impact on the agricultural industry be too costly?

Guests:

Roman Pinal, Oxnard coordinator for United Farm Workers of America; his organization has been pushing for the approval of AB 1066 ; he is currently at a Muranaka Farm, a vegetable farm in Moorpark, Calif.

Paul Wenger, president of the California Farm Bureau Federation; the federation has been lobbying against the bill

Jeremy B. White, reporter with the Sacramento Bee; he has been following the story; he tweets from

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