Farmworkers to receive overtime pay

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1066 into law on Sept. 12, making California the fifth state in the country to provide farmworkers with overtime pay.

The action is being called a “historic move” by Brown, with many expressing that farm workers are finally getting what they deserve after working up to ten hours a day, six days a week.

Others, such as local farmer Richard Rodriguez, said this bill will do anything but good for those involved in agriculture.

A typical day for him involves waking up nice and early.

“I wake up around 4:30 and leave the house by 5:30,” said Rodriguez. “Then give the employees orders for the day and then I go farm in five different areas; going from ranch to ranch.”

Rodriguez grows crops varying from tomatoes, peppers, sweet corn, fresh beans and more, then sells some of the produce at the weekend’s farmers market in the Trinity Parkway shopping center off Eight Mile Road.

“Most of my employees are seasonal,” said Rodriguez. “So right now they work 60 hours a week. After working ten hours, they get overtime and they all make over minimum wage.”

Rodriguez considers his seasonal employees happy, as they make most of their money during season, working 60 hours and making $600 a week, as opposed to a 40 hour week where they’ll make $400, cutting checks by a third.

But when the season is over and he’s had all the help he needs during harvest season (which isn’t much) he likes to pay them a little extra.

“A lot of the times I’ll just have them maintain equipment or work on stuff in the shop just to keep them busy. But later on, when the minimum wage goes up, I’ll start to pay them $15 dollars an hour,” he said.

With minimum wage on the rise and Rodriguez’ workers that typically work more than eight hours a day getting overtime, Rodriguez will be paying the workers significantly more, going from $15 an hour to $22.50, according to Rodriguez.

“And add to that another 25 to 30 percent for your workers comp, social security and insurance, so it gets pretty expensive,” he said.

This change in policy may not benefit farmers; but Delta student Jonathon Fan thinks this will do a great service to farmworkers.

“I think it’s good because farmers will make more money,” he said, “more produce will be provided. I think the prices on fruits and vegetables will rise, though. It might not be good for the lower class.”