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Berryhill Voices Out Against Farmworker Overtime Bill

A bill passed in the California Senate that is designed to cover farmworkers with the same overtime pay rules as other industries. Farm laborers have long had special exemptions from several state rules and requirements. Overtime for farmworkers in California begins once they reach 10 hours in a day, but for other industries it is 8 hours.

District 8 Senator Tom Berryhill, who represents the Mother Lode and has a background in agriculture, countered by saying, “This bill, instead of trying to help the farmworkers, is hosing the farmworkers.”

Berryhill feels it will result in workers receiving fewer hours, and smaller paychecks, because additional new workers will be hired to avoid paying overtime.

Senate Democratic leader Kevin de Leon feels that agricultural workers are being mistreated, and change needs to happen. He says, “Farmworkers are among the least paid and most exploited in our nation….The working conditions are abysmal, the housing substandard, and the healthcare almost non-existent. Agriculture is consistently ranked one of the three most hazardous conditions in the United States.”

Berryhill adds that several laborers rely on working extended hours during the harvest season to make ends meet. He argues, “So, in effect what you’re doing if you pass this bill is taking maybe half a paycheck away from working families that depend on this money.”

The legislation passed in the Senate and now moves to the Assembly for a vote. Governor Jerry Brown has not indicated whether he would sign the legislation.