Analysis: Farm Worker Overtime Issue Emerges as Crucial Divide in SD 3 Race

AB-1066
Mariko Yamada stands with her colleagues and former workers after AB 1066 prevailed

While the majority of the State Assembly voted to pass AB 1066, which grants California farm workers with overtime pay protections, one of those for whom the legislation was too large a bridge to walk over was Assemblymember Bill Dodd, a former Republican who has served our local Assembly District for nearly two years and now is the proverbial favorite to win the open State Senate 3rd District seat currently held by Lois Wolk.

AB 1066, sponsored by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who has emerged as a force to be reckoned with, getting 19 bills to the governor’s desk this term, passed the Assembly by a 44 to 32 margin.

The new electoral format pits the current Democratic Assemblymember Bill Dodd against his Democratic predecessor Mariko Yamada.  And, while this has always seemed to be the case of the more moderate candidate against the more liberal one, the issue of overtime pay for farm workers is an issue that gives that different depth and focus that it did not have before.

Mariko Yamada, out of office and considered the underdog, has been out front on this issue.  In a statement released on Tuesday, she stated, “I applaud the California Legislature for passing this long overdue legislation, which removes the overtime exemption for California’s farm workers. Three previous attempts to right this wrong were either vetoed or failed to clear the Assembly.”

She also used this as the opportunity to separate herself from Mr. Dodd, stating, “Most notably, my opponent Assemblyman Bill Dodd once again sided with wealthy agricultural interests and voted against farm workers and their families. One thing is clear – California deserves better leadership.”

“For 78 years, farm workers have been explicitly excluded from basic overtime protections afforded to every other group of California workers. Roughly 30 percent of households with farm worker income are below the poverty line, and 73 percent earn less than 200 percent of poverty,” the former Assemblymember continued.

Mariko Yamada also used this as a high-profile opportunity to point out her record: “I’m proud to have joined farm workers last week on the North Steps of the Capitol in a 24-hour fast to raise awareness of this historic issue. My record on justice for farm workers isn’t new. I voted for farm worker overtime six years ago in the fight for SB 1121 (Florez-2010) and again for AB 1313 (Allen-2012). In this race for State Senate, I’m proud to have the support of civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, SEIU California, AFSCME Council 57, and California’s nurses and teachers – because they know I will always fight for justice.”

Finally, she issued a challenge to her opponent, “I challenge Assemblymember Dodd to work a day in the fields with me, so he can experience the realities of this backbreaking work. Farm workers put food on our tables. They are the backbone of California’s agricultural economy.”

In contrast, Bill Dodd has been difficult to pin down on this issue.  Mr. Dodd has generally been accessible as an Assemblymember, meeting with the Vanguard Editorial Board last spring to lay out his legislative agenda.  However, on the issue of Farm Worker Overtime, he has been elusive and sources have told the Vanguard he seems to have been beaten down by the criticism.

While the 3rd Senate District is reliably Democratic in terms of registered voters and voting records, it also tends to be more agricultural and moderate.  Nevertheless, 1066 gives Ms. Yamada a real opening to differentiate herself on an issue that has been fairly high profile.

Finally, on Wednesday evening, Bill Dodd’s legislative team issued a statement.

“I had concerns with the bill that weren’t worked out, so I wasn’t able to support it,” said Assemblymember Dodd. “I’m supportive of what it’s trying to do, but I want to ensure that changes are balanced and crafted in a way that minimizes unintended negative consequences.”

So what specifically did he have a problem with?

He responded, “For example, this bill will be a significant burden on those commodities and industries that can’t adjust prices due to federal price setting. And that will ultimately hurt California’s farmworkers in those areas.”

That comes from the legislative side of the aisle.  Meanwhile, the campaign has studiously avoided this issue in its entirety.  For an operation that has been exceedingly well run, both in 2014 when he had to defeat Dan Wolk and Joe Krovoza to win the seat and in 2016, as he goes up against his predecessor, this seems to be the first time where the team is marked with uncertainty and trepidation.

This issue has a chance to become the defining issue in a race between two Democrats where there is not a huge amount of daylight between them on the issues.

It is a bit surprising that the Dodd campaign hasn’t been more aggressive to get out in front of this issue.

The technical and vague response by Mr. Dodd’s legislative office pales in comparison to the heartfelt and impassioned challenge by Mariko Yamada’s campaign team.

How will this play out in a district that would seem to favor Bill Dodd overall?  Hard to know.  But stay tuned, as we haven’t hit Labor Day just yet – in more ways than one.

—David M. Greenwald reporting; Sean Raycraft contributed to this report

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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61 Comments

    1. Tia Will

      Why don’t you call him a Democrat instead of a former Republican?”

      I have a different perspective on this from David. My response would be that from his stances on a number of issues, he would seem to be to be best characterized as a moderate Republican who happened to change his party affiliation to improve his chances of election rather than as a matter of positions.

      1. hpierce

        Let me get this straight…you, of all people, posit what someone else is thinking, AND their motivations, and appear to opine how they should be “assigned” as to registration?…  OK…

        I understand “one-way rules”… don’t respect them, but I understand them…

      2. hpierce

        Honest questions, Tia… what is the difference between a moderate Republican, a moderate Democrat, and an Independent? How does it matter?

        In my experience, little.

        Yet, I’ve known uber-conservative Democrats, and uber-liberal Republicans (though many of the latter became Libertarians).

        1. Tia Will

          hpierce

          Obviously there will be a lot of overlap on positions. I know a number of economic conservative/ social liberals and vice versa.

          I don’t think that the difference matters at all….unless of course a politician chooses to label themselves so as to be elected rather than so as to present their positions  transparently to allow voters to be able to clearly see whether they would support them on the issues as opposed to merely by party affiliation. Then, I think that it matters a great deal.

    1. hpierce

      Interesting question… “district voters”, vs. “district residents”, vs. California as a whole, vs. society as a whole?  Whose benefit should we focus on?  They may be mutually exclusive, at least in part…

      I know who I will vote for, but it will not be based on a single issue, as much as some may want to promote a “litmus test”… I’ve known Mariko for years, although our interactions have been sporadic…beginning when she was an ‘Assistant’ to Rosenberg… great person, I genuinely respect and like her… as an individual… I’ll be voting for Dodd, come November… suspect that if political realities in the area were different, he’d be an independent, neither Republican nor Democrat… but it is what it is.

      I like people who show they think, and weigh data/values… I abhor “party think”… I like it when folk admit they struggle with issues [unless they are just figuring out which way the political winds blow]… my gut tells me that Dodd meets that criteria.

      The language and implications of the legislation, as proposed, is “iffy” in my view, although I strongly support the values of the concept… I’ll not use the current proposal as a litmus test…

       

       

    2. quielo

      “Interesting question… “district voters”, vs. “district residents”, vs. California as a whole, vs. society as a whole?  Whose benefit should we focus on?” In representative democracy the first allegiance should be to the interests of the voters though of course children do not vote and so get shafted frequently. People eligible to vote who don’t and people not eligible to vote (aside from children who should be able to vote) are not part of the equation and don’t count. 

       

      I have only one “litmus test”, a politician should be able to explain to their constituents why there activities are in their best interest. A politicians self interest often varies from the interests of their voters.

      1. Tia Will

        quielo

        In representative democracy the first allegiance should be to the interests of the voters though of course children do not vote and so get shafted frequently.”

        While I agree with you that the interests of the voters is the first allegiance, I do not agree that it should be. I am a big fan of the “greatest good for the greatest number” while still respecting minority rights as what should take “first allegiance”.

         

  1. Eric Gelber

    “Whose benefit should we focus on?” is, indeed, an interesting question with no simple answer. It is certainly not limited to the interest of “voters.” Local elected officials are responsible to, and must consider the interests of everyone they represent–including those who, because of age, disability, legal constraints, or other reasons cannot or choose not to vote. This includes not only the interests of businesses and major donors, but also the interests of others who live and work in the district–including disenfranchised agricultural workers. But state legislators cannot focus only on local interests. They also must consider the interests of the state as a whole–in part because what happens at the state level impacts their local districts, but also because an exclusive focus on parochial interests makes compromise impossible and results in gridlock.

    1. hpierce

      We may not have worded it the same, but I think you and I agree that the “whose benefit” question is both complex and nuanced… the ‘answer’ is shaped by our own backgrounds/experiences, and we will each have our own answers…

    2. quielo

      I was not aware we had any “disenfranchised agricultural workers” Can you explain? I am aware that we may have workers who have residences in other geographies but that is not “disenfranchised” in any definition I can find. I travel to other countries regularly for work  but have never considered trying to vote there. 

       

      I my experience the most common opening when a politician is trying to screw you is “must consider the interests of the state as a whole”. As a recent example the state decided that to “consider the interests of the state as a whole” they would take the money we were receiving for schools and send it to LA as we “cannot focus only on local interests” and the education of students in was a greater goal for the state than educating students in Davis and similar communities. The state then decided through Torlakson that the recipients did not actually need to spend money on educating students at all, if they decided to have a big party that was OK if they thought is was in the interest of the students. Turns out that the leadership of LAUSD had a meeting and decided that spending the money on raises for employees was the best use of the money. So the net from listening to political hacks BS was that the teachers in LA get a big raise and our teachers and their students get nothing. But that is what happens when you listen to a politician say things like “consider the interests of the state as a whole”. People should vote based on what they know, what benefits their district. That is why we have districts and do not elect representatives globally.

        1. Justice4All

          I think it is the right word. Most of the farm workers I talk to are not transient. They have lived in California for years. They pay taxes, cannot draw upon social services, and cannot vote. I think disenfranchised is the right word to describe that situation.

        2. quielo

          So Sean,

           

          The guiding principal is that each person has a place of residence and they vote in that location regardless of where they are physically located. Since farmworkers are eligible to vote wherever their home is you seem to feel they should be eligible to vote here as well. Since they may work in a variety of places during the year how many times should one individual be allowed to vote?

        3. Justice4All

          So Sean,
          The guiding principal is that each person has a place of residence and they vote in that location regardless of where they are physically located. Since farmworkers are eligible to vote wherever their home is you seem to feel they should be eligible to vote here as well. Since they may work in a variety of places during the year how many times should one individual be allowed to vote?

          So yeah… people ought to vote once, in the district where they reside. The end.

        4. quielo

          “So yeah… people ought to vote once, in the district where they reside. The end.” Sean, are really that out of touch? Transient workers move around, that is why they are called transient. 

          According to your principal we should demand that our military members in Germany or Japan should vote there rather than here as they do now. When I visit China I should vote there? What is I am in Seattle? Should I demand to vote there?

        5. hpierce

          Neither can convicted felons vote… nor, those under 18… nor those declared mentally incompetent by a judge (and I’ll not go for any easy shot for certain political affiliations being a sure proof of mental incompetence… just won’t do that!)

          To answer Quielo’s query, for eligible voters, “once”.  Just like college students from LA… they can vote here, as Yolo county ‘residents’, or back home… not both… simple concept…  not positive, but think double voting is actually a felony… very sure that it is at least a misdemeanor, coupled with a potential charge of perjury… when you sign the voter log, you are certifying, under penalty of perjury, that you are qualified to vote, and will only vote once.

          See…

          http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/additional-elections-information/publications-and-resources/voting-law-compliance-handbook/

        6. South of Davis

          Sean wrote:

          > Most of the farm workers I talk to are not transient.

          > They have lived in California for years. They pay

          > taxes, cannot draw upon social services

          I know we have a LOT of illegal/undocumented farm workers.  I also know that no one has an exact number of the farm workers working illegally, but do you really think that “most” (over HALF) of the long time non-transient farm workers are here illegally and can’t get social services?

      1. Tia Will

        quielo

        I travel to other countries regularly for work  but have never considered trying to vote there. “

        One critical difference that I can see is that you probably do not travel to any countries from which large segments of the population were displaced by the conquering nation as was the case on our Southern border.

        1. quielo

          I go to China which of course has moved south and forced the previous residents to either move up (as in altitude) or south. The Khmer, Hmong, and Viet people all used to live in what is now China and were displaced. “large segments of the population were displaced by the conquering nation” is more usually the case rather than the converse. It is absolutely true of the First Americans and more so after the arrival of the first weapon of mass destruction, the horse, which completely realigned where peoples lived. People move around a lot and not usually because they want to. If you have ever been to England, France, Germany, or particularly Spain you have walked on ground that has seen many people pushed out. 

           

          I believe you have some relationship with Turkey. Can you count how many different groups have been “displaced by the conquering nation” just within the current boundaries of Turkey?

      1. Barack Palin

        Most not yet anyway, but the long range game plan is amnesty plus their children born here and raised in liberal households will vote Democrat for generations.

      2. David Greenwald

        That is point number 1. Point number two is the reason why Latinos vote heavily Democratic stems from 1994 and Prop 187. Prior to 1994, HIspanics were fairly evenly split in terms who they voted for, after 187, Hispanics have voted 70-30 and upwards of 80-20 Democratic. In other words, BP has the order of causation reversed.

        1. quielo

          “You’re wrong” You got me there. Not possible to rebut such a well crafted yet comprehensive argument. I presume your time Oxfordshire is what allows such fluidly. 

      3. hpierce

        Don… also said it elsewhere… in Florida and CA, hispanics tend to support conservative candidates… particularly those voters whose roots were in Cuba… see who had the hispanic support… just look at recent governors and senate members from Florida.  But, now…

        Cruz and Rubio are conservative Republicans… they are not anomalies… those are not anglo-saxon names… their ascension was built on conservative hispanic voters…

        1. South of Davis

          hpierce wrote:

          > South of Davis… same… patently untrue…

          I have worked on dozens of campaigns over the years and most actually have people that work to “get out the illegal alien vote”.  They make it a point not to actually “ask” anyone if they are legal, they just get them to register and then come back to get them to vote.  In the San Francisco Housing Authority properties they get “everyone”  registered and when the absentee ballots come in the mail they take them from the mail room and bring them each person to vote and sign the ballot.

          Just like it is hard for me to “prove” that illegal aliens don’t vote I have no “proof” that the Latino guys standing out in front of Home Depot that work for cash are not declaring all the income they get and paying self employment tax on their earnings…

          P.S. To restate my original point If illegal aliens did not vote in large numbers Democrats would not care about voter ID laws (and Democrats are “really” opposed to any kind of voter ID verification)…

        2. hpierce

          Wow, South of Davis…if what you say is true, you have info that people solicited folk to perjure themselves…and if you factually know of even one that illegally voted, you are potentially guilty of being an accomplice…

          And you reported what you saw/experienced?  If not, why not?

        3. South of Davis

          hpierce wrote:

          > if you factually know of even one that illegally voted,

          > you are potentially guilty of being an accomplice…

          I’m not a legal expert, but I don’t think I am an “accomplice” if I don’t report voter fraud (or the Lake Alhambra couple I know that has an illegal housekeeper from Belize or the UCD Prof. I know that scored some pot from his TA to take to Stones concert in Vegas next month).

          > And you reported what you saw/experienced?

          > If not, why not?

          Unlike the people on the list below I’m smart enough to keep my mouth shut and not rat on gangsters, mobsters and politicians:

          http://www.freewebs.com/jeffhead/liberty/liberty/bdycount.txt

    1. hpierce

      In California, many hispanic voters are solid Republicans, historically… predominantly Catholic or evangelical (practicing or not), they have historically had very strong ties to family values, tended to be anti-abortion, etc.  Romney got ~ 46% of the hispanic vote last time… much better numbers than with the ‘black’ vote…

      A candidate who knowingly alienates hispanic Republican voters… well, probably not the brightest bulb in the marquee…

        1. Frankly

          That left narrative is that the GOP has grown more white and older and out of touch with minorities and that explains minorities bolting from the GOP.

          But the truth is that minorities have bought the Kool Aid from the DNC-liberal media divide and conquer-strategy narrative, and Trump just added fuel to that fire with his insensitive delivery.

          The rest of the explanation is the economic changes where uneducated immigrants look to nanny government instead of father free market.

           

          1. David Greenwald

            The problem with your theory is that the Democratic core, except for the disappearance of the elected Southern Democrat, has not changed much in the last thirty years and probably not even since 1972. You would probably recognize McGovern circa in the modern Democratic party. What has changed has been how far the core of the Republican Party has moved to the right. As that’s happened, minorities – even Asians – have become increasingly Democratic. So you theory is wrong, it’s a tangible push away from Republicans rather than push towards Democrats.

        2. South of Davis

          Frankly wrote;

          > That left narrative is that the GOP has grown

          > more white and older and out of touch with

          > minorities

          The GOP has not grown “more white” (I saw a group photo of the GOP Convention at the Cow Palace years ago and it was close to 100% white) but the GOP HAS grown older and out of touch with minorities (and I do not expect to see a Republican win a statewide election in California ever again)…

        3. hpierce

          My bad, misread this… http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/11/07/latino-voters-in-the-2012-election/…

          which is more pertinent than your cite, David…

          I misread one of the columns… that’s on me… I acknowledge that…

    2. Tia Will

      BP

      Well, that would depend upon which “Democrats” you are speaking of. Many Hispanics are far to the right of me in terms of socially conservative positions, and yet I strongly defend their right to be in the United States and in that sense “welcome them”.

    1. hpierce

      How so?  Corruption [proof?]?  His parentage [proof]?  Apparently both, in spades, in your view…

      A reasonable person would just disagree, and vote for an alternative candidate… but you go a “trifle” beyond that…

      Your words convince me to vote for Dodd…

    2. Eric Gelber

      quielo: First, no one voted today since the session adjourned yesterday. Second, the bill got only 15 Aye votes in the 80 member Assembly; so, unless you’re suggesting there are 65 corrupt bastards in the Assembly, I’m guessing there were other reasons the bill failed.

      1. quielo

        Eric,

         

        For those unfamiliar SB 1190 reduces or eliminates ex parte meetings with members of the coastal commission. As is well known lobbyists wine and dine coastal commissioners while they have business in front of the commission while “the people” get the shaft. There is NO credible reason (and I noticed you did not suggest one) to vote against it other than taking a bribe from lobbyists. You cannot get a clearer roadmap to political corruption than to look at the vote on 1190.

        1. Eric Gelber

          You just accused 65 members of the Assembly of taking bribes without a shred of evidence. You or I may not agree with the reasons for No votes, but “corruption” is not the only explanation and I’m not willing to make such an assertion without more. You might want to ask Assembly Member Dodd why he voted no before referring to him as either corrupt or a bastard. Your only “facts” go more to suggesting corruption within the Coastal Commission than the Legislature.

  2. quielo

    “You just accused 65 members of the Assembly of taking bribes without a shred of evidence.” I have evidence, I have their votes, that is the only kind that counts.

    1. hpierce

      So, where is your evidence? As to bribery?

      Where is your evidence, as to parentage?

      And what has anything of this to do with the topic? The Coastal Commission might have one employee who would be subject to the ‘farmworker bill’…Maybe…

  3. hpierce

    You can add the seriously off-topic issue, as well… will admit I got “sucked in”, until I read the bill cited… mistakenly thought it had to do with the farmworker issues…

    1. quielo

      HP, my post did say “For those unfamiliar SB 1190 reduces or eliminates ex parte meetings with members of the coastal commission”

      It’s not very controversial except for those legislators who run a significant business in taking bribes from developers and so is ideal as a marker of legislators for sale. It’s like an immunoassay test where the monoclonal antibodies identify some pathogen.

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