UFW-backed overtime bill will cost farmworkers 20 hours’ pay a week

Farmworkers are entitled to work up to 60 hours a week under present law. A UFW-backed measure to slash the work day to 40 hours a week will cost workers up to one-third of their income, according to a column in the Sacramento Bee.

The union argues that employers will be forced to pay overtime above 40 hours a week, so the extra 20 hours a week on overtime pay is a big gain for farmworkers.

That’s very nice, thank you, but the reality is that most employers will stop work for everyone at 40 hours a week if they have to pay extra wages for those extra 20 hours.

Since the UFW represents only 1 to 2 percent of California farmworkers, depending on how you count us, the union does not speak for the other 98 to 99 percent.

The bill in question is AB 1066.

“Restricting agricultural workers to a 40-hour week will not guarantee them overtime, but it will mandate a one-third cut in straight pay,” Jeff Merwin of the Yolo County Farm Bureau writes in the Sacramento Bee. “A full-time farmworker earning just the minimum wage can make roughly $30,000 annually, excluding benefits such as housing, but would only earn $20,000 after enactment of this legislation.”