By Sean Raycraft
A few weeks ago, Assembly Democrats had an opportunity to end a relic of institutional racism by passing AB 2757. The bill would have gradually implemented overtime for farm workers over a period of several years, and would allow for the governor to arrest the increases if certain economic conditions occurred.
The bill used similar language as SB 3, the 15$ an hour minimum wage bill in that regard. Unfortunately for the farm workers, the bill failed to advance, with several assembly Democrats voting no, including our assembly member and state senate candidate Bill Dodd, and Sacramento area Democrats Jim Cooper and Ken Cooley.
The political fallout from this vote has begun, as the Sacramento Central Labor Council revoked its exclusive endorsement of Bill Dodd. The labor group has now taken a dual endorsement position of Mariko Yamada and Bill Dodd on the State Senate District 4 race.
Lorena Gonzalez, (D San Diego) has amended AB 1066 to include the language of the failed AB 2757, and that bill will be heard on June 29. Local Democratic clubs will be considering resolutions supporting AB 1066 in the coming days. While it is highly unlikely that Bill Dodd will change his vote, but he will have to do so knowing progressive voters will be displeased with his votes.
On June 2, hundreds of farm workers came to Sacramento from all over the state to hopefully witness the passage of another historic bill. Assembly bill 2757 would have extended overtime protections to farm workers. They were sorely disappointed when right in front of them, the bill died on the assembly floor with a vote of 38 in favor and 35 opposed and 7 abstaining or absent.
Former assembly district 4 representative Mariko Yamada, who faces Bill Dodd in the November election, has made many public statements of support on social media for the farm workers, and has expressed disappointment that the bill did not advance.
She wrote “I am on the record 5 years ago supporting AB 1313 (Allen) during the 2011-2012 legislative session for farmworker overtime. Regrettably, AB 1313 also did not pass. Farmworkers and domestic workers were excluded from overtime protections in the 1935 NLRA. (national labor relations act) Its long past time these racist injustices are eliminated!”
County Supervisor and former candidate for Assembly District 4 Don Saylor also came out strongly for this bill on social media writing, “Let me be clear. My vote on AB 2757 would be YES. Why should farm workers not be paid for overtime under the same rules as any other worker?”
Winters Mayor and Assembly District 4 candidate Cecilia Aguiar-Curry provided the following position statement when asked: “Its important that people understand the Ag sector. Farming demands unique requirements. I have concerns about redefining the current overtime provisions in the labor code on the heels of the new 15$ minimum wage requirement which phases in by 2020. I think it is prudent to take a go slow approach in order to assess the financial impacts on farmers and consumers before adding additional costs to production agriculture. I am open to changing the overtime rules in the future AFTER the effects of increased labor costs due to the new minimum wage are better understood.”
Sean Raycraft is a lifelong Davis resident and proud Shop steward with UFCW 8