SANTA MARIA, Calif. – It’s a moment some are calling groundbreaking.
“The law has not been changed in over 80 years and it’s about time it got changed,” says Olga Santos, Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy.
A new bill referred to as AB 1066, would impact the laws that farm workers currently face regarding overtime hours.
California would be the first state to pass the bill and give farm workers the same overtime hours as other employees get in other professions.
Right now, farm workers get overtime pay after working for 10 hours while the rest of the hourly employees in the state get overtime after 8 hours of work.
“A lot of them are really excited that it’s passed a lot are thankful some say it’s about time its passed and there is a lot of positive feedback,” says Santos.
Jim Stollberg is co-owner of Hampton Farming in Santa Maria. He says the company has been around for 30 years.
“Due to the seasonality of farm work because our labor hinges on weather and the crop being restricted when we can harvest it and when we can do certain things it lets our people work longer in the fields,” he says.
He says its important that employees work a fair amount of hours. Right now his employees work on average 50 hours a week.
“We want to pay our workers the best we can and promote them within the company and this puts another mandated restriction on what our workers can work,” he says.
With the possible cut in hours that could come down the line because of the new overtime rules, he says it would force workers to be more efficient and could drive the cost of fruits and vegetables up.
“Our labor costs are between 50-60% of our production and we are worried that this coupled with the minimum wage increases down the road could increase this upwards to 20-30%,” he says.
The bill is now sent to Governor Jerry Brown. He can approve it or veto it.