Statement of Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif following today’s passage of AB 1066 in the California State Assembly:
“We are extremely disappointed in the decision of the California State Assembly to pass AB 1066 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. If signed by Governor Brown, the increased overtime costs imposed on California family farmers will compound newly enacted minimum wage increases set to reach $15 per hour by 2022. A recent economic analysis concludes that the combination of these two measures will significantly reduce both farmworker income and agricultural production in the state.
The members who voted for this bill have placed California farms at an even further competitive disadvantage internationally and with other states. California is one of only five states that provide overtime to farmworkers, and the only state that requires daily overtime after 10 hours. Furthermore, there are numerous other California industries that have exceptions and complete exemptions from the eight-hour overtime requirement. These are facts that supporters of the bill conveniently chose to overlook.
Employers in all industries intentionally manage overtime costs, which are generally reserved for anomalies in the work day or work week. Agriculture is a seasonal industry with limited opportunities for farmworkers to earn full paychecks during peak harvest. While AB 1066 claims to protect agricultural employees, this short-sighted policy will have the opposite effect, reducing the number of hours available to (and earnings potential of) farmworkers.
For these reasons, AB 1066 has faced broad opposition from both California family farmers and their employees and must be vetoed by the Governor.”