Schwarzenegger Blocks the Latest Shot in the War On Farmers

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have mandated overtime pay for agricultural workers who are on the job for more than eight hours in a day. California is already the only state to provide overtime pay to employees working over 10 hours; this bill would have gone significantly further. According to the Los Angeles Times:

Saying he didn't want to damage California's agricultural economy, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday vetoed a first-in-the-nation bill that would have given farmworkers the same rights to overtime pay enjoyed by all other hourly workers in California.

Applying the eight-hour day to agriculture would be burdensome to business and reverse longstanding labor practices, Schwarzenegger wrote in a veto message.

If the bill had been signed into law, it would have constituted a significant expense for farm owners and could have resulted in reduced take-home pay for many workers:

The veto message echoed arguments made by both giant agribusinesses and organic-farm owners. They contended that growers need special exemptions from labor laws because they operate on tight profit margins and need to work long hours to harvest crops quickly to get them to market.

Payroll costs would rise at least 10% if overtime were paid after eight hours, lobbyists for big agriculture said.…

Switching to an eight-hour day, while well intentioned, could hurt both consumers and farmworkers, said Judith Redmond, a manager of Full Belly Farm, which grows organic produce in the Capay Valley north of Sacramento.

"Instead of the wages that we now pay, we would have to be conservative because payroll costs would rise very significantly," Redmond wrote in a recent newsletter to customers. "In effect, the new law would turn the job into a minimum-wage job.…The farmworkers would net out at less pay."

Farms have long been excluded from many of the restrictive labor laws that other industries have to deal with. Besides not being subject to paying overtime in most states, a 1938 law specifically exempts farms from some child labor standards, allowing them to hire minors as young as 12 to work outside school hours. But the California law is just the latest in a series of attempts across the country to impose new regulations on the agricultural sector. The Department of Labor recently stepped up enforcement of child labor regulations and is promising a "review of regulations governing child labor in agriculture." At the same time, Congress is considering outlawing young farm workers altogether. If this trend continues, expect to pay significantly more for your (already overpriced) organic vegetables.

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  • ||

    California is already the only state to provide overtime pay to employees working over 10 hours

    Alaska must have done away with that, because they used to require OT pay if you worked over eight hours a day or over forty a week.

  • ||

    Okay, gotta give Ben Richards some props for the veto.

  • ||

    Only in a rerun.

  • ||

    Well, I may not have been in show business for as long as you have. But I'm a quick learner. And right now, I'm going to give the audience what I think they want.

  • ||

    That is a threadwinner. The webgem of the day!

  • cynical||

    Why? Yes, it's less regulation, but it's also the preservation of a special exemption granted to a favored industry.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    They contended that growers need special exemptions from labor laws because they operate on tight profit margins and need to work long hours...

    It's a good thing that farming is the only industry where this is true.

  • ||

    Granted, but harvests are pretty much a special case, wouldn't you say?

  • ¢||

    while well intentioned


  • Bill||

    They might not realize that this bill would do more harm than good, but some people are probably well-intentioned who supported this. You ever work on a farm? Incredibly back breaking work.

  • Pol Pot||

    Stop complaining. It's good for you.

  • Ron L||

    So back-breaking that the employers have to pay OT to attract workers, right?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Bill,

    NOTHING that the government does has "good intentions". Follow the money: Cui bono?

    Ag Business may have made some token arguments for the photo-op, but in reality, they can afford to pay overtime MORE than their smaller competitors, especially the so-called "organic" farmers. These Ag Business very likely wrote the bill, in the shadows, themselves!

  • Coeus||

    What's funny is that the idiots who want to kill factory farming are the same ones who will end up regulating any other kind out of existence.

  • leavemealone||

    Here's a better pic of the girl on the farm tractor sign.

  • Jeffersonian||

    Is she a girl who can't say no?

  • timekeeper||

    No, she's not in the California assembly.

  • Jesse Kline||

    Much better. I wish I had found that one yesterday.

  • ||

    Where did you find the one you used? I had to see it several times, and finally look closely, to realize that the tractor-riding farmer was female. Then I came to the comments thread to see if you identified the source, but no luck.

  • Ron L||

    I'd be a lot easier to cheer the outcome if the farmers weren't the beneficiaries of socialist Ag policies.
    As it stands, the farmers claiming the workers should get 'market rate' pay rings a bit hollow.
    (no, I'm not defending the bill Arnie vetoed; *any* lack of regulation is a plus)

  • Apologetic California||

    Wait....farms are exempt from regular overtime laws?

  • d'Neocon of my mind's eye||

    Americans would do those jobs if the immigrants weren't willing to forgo overtime.

  • highnumber||

    This is a good comment. It's like a subtle knife.

  • hmm||

    Good article. Alt text fail, but good article.

  • EscapedWestOfTheBigMuddy||

    Farmer John began to regret putting growth hormones in the feed...

  • Virginia||

    what a coincidence! i was just at My Other Mortgage and kept thinking, "hmmm, these organic vegetables are not expensive enough. i wonder if there's a way to make them pricier."

  • Old Mexican||

    At the same time, Congress is considering outlawing young farm workers altogether.

    Government (in a creepy, Vincent Pricey sort of voice) saying:

    Your children are ours.

  • farmerpages||

    Does any farmer work just 8 hours a day. I don't even think farmer's kids work just 8 hours a day. Although I know there should be caps on OT I think Farmers are still except.


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