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California Farm Workers Make Push For Overtime Pay

SALINAS (KPIX 5) -- Farm workers across the state are putting in overtime, but they're not reaping the benefits in their paychecks, and now there's a fight within the state legislature to change that.

In Contra Costa County, in the heat of the summer, farm workers hit the fields early.

By noon they're home, but one of the last off for the day - is usually Fernando Marcos from Stockton. Marcos is tasked with checking the work of his fellow farm workers, and even when he works more than eight hours in a day - he doesn't get overtime pay.

A new bill would phase in overtime pay so farmworkers would get time-and-a-half after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. Current law starts farmworker overtime wages after 10 hour work days.

"Of course that's what we want. We want to work more to earn more," Marcos said when asked if he wanted the opportunity to earn overtime pay.

The push for overtime pay has been defeated before, and now again growers are coming out in force against it.

In a statement, the California Farm Bureau Federation, which represents growers said, "The bill before the Legislature, AB 1066, would end up forcing farmers to restructure their operations in order to minimize increased costs, leading to the unfortunate result of reduced hours for employees."

But, supporters of the bill say the issue is about equality.

"The bottom line is this bill is all about discrimination and equality. It would finally end in California the ugly and disgraceful 78 year exclusion uniform workers from the same 8 hour overtime protections that all other American workers have enjoyed since the 1930s," Marc Grossman with United Farm Workers said.


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