Assembly to Vote on Farmworker Overtime Bill After Protest

United Farmworkers President Arturo Rodriguez (L, arms raised) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (C) emerge after meeting about AB 1066 on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

United Farmworkers President Arturo Rodriguez (L, arms raised) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (C) emerge after meeting about AB 1066 on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016. (Katie Orr/KQED)

Hundreds of California farmworkers filled the hall in front of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon’s office and spilled into the Capitol rotunda. They chanted and sang in protest after a bill they had traveled to Sacramento to support failed to get a vote in the Assembly.

AB 1066 would allow workers to be paid overtime after they work eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. Right now they must work 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week to get extra pay. The bill faces tough opposition. Supporters knew it could be close, but they were shocked when it wasn’t even put up for a vote after Assembly leaders were unsure whether it had the 41 votes needed to pass.

After the Assembly adjourned for the rest of the week, the farmworkers gathered near Rendon’s office. United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez insisted the votes were there.

“We believe we do have the 41 votes necessary to win this,” he said. “The farmworkers have been visiting and going out and talking to members of the state Assembly all throughout the state now for weeks.”

In search of answers, Rodriguez and other representatives met with Rendon (D-Paramount). After awhile the group emerged. Flanked by lawmakers, including the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Rendon reassured the crowd their bill would get a vote.

“I know a lot of people came here, you took time off from work, you missed out on a day of pay, because you understand how significant this issue is to you, to your families and to all Californians,” he said. “We did not take a vote today. We will take a vote next week.”

Rendon said the bill will come up on Monday — and he implored the farmworkers to help him get it passed.

  • Dario

    This bill will be devastating for California farm workers. Yes, it will cost farmers more, but the farm workers will make less. Farmers will hire more workers, not pay overtime to their current workers. Ultimately it will hurt agriculture all over the state of California. How does this make sense to anyone?

    • Roman Pinal

      It makes sense to you that it’s only farm workers that don’t get home in time to help their children with homework? It makes sense to you that farm workers are the only labor force that typically work 6 days a week enduring a 1 day weekend? Give them equal treatment and let the labor market forces-not special ag-friendly labor laws- dictate what farm workers earn.
      And don’t feel bad for the growers. No where else in the world does a 12 month growing climate exist, only in CA! The Koch brothers are running ads on major TV channels saying that by 2050 twice the food will need to be produced from the same land. Agribusiness will be fine.

      • Dario

        I am in no way defending Ag business. I am speaking for the farm workers. Ask them what they want, and don’t go by what the UFW says. If you cut their hours, they will make less. Plain and simple. You can’t work in the fields when it is raining. You can’t work when it is too hot (see Cal OSHA rules). And you can’t work when the crops don’t need anything done, its called seasonal. So there are less possible days in a year in which to make an income.
        Also, California is a large state. Only a few parts have year-round farming climates. Here on the Northcoast there is very limited winter work.

        • I am in no way defending Ag business. I am speaking for the farm workers.

          …yet your implication that free market economics works (after all, some people realize and remember what has happened since the Reagan Era when this myth began to fester) undermines your assertions about your concerns and motivations.

    • How does this make sense to anyone?

      No, your assertion doesn’t make any sense. Anyone who knows just a smidgen of California’s history since the 19th Century and the economics of agri-business knows that your assertions are baseless. It’s more evident to me that you have no idea what kind of hardships farm workers have endured in this same period of time.

      • Dario

        I’m am very familiar with the case you linked and the other recent deaths of farm workers. Therefore, I do not want to see their income cut by a misguided law. In my area farm workers are making $13-15/hr, currently. If you cut their hours from 60-40 hours a week, they will bring home less. That is the only way I can see this ending up. By changing the labor code to pay people over time above 40 hours a week, how can anyone not think that their hours would be limited?

  • …then there are those who have lauded the author’s success with AB 1066


Katie Orr

Katie Orr is a Sacramento-based reporter for KQED's Politics and Government  Desk, covering the state Capitol and a variety of issues including women in politics, voting and elections and legislation. Prior to joining KQED in 2016, Katie was state government reporter for Capital Public Radio in Sacramento. She's also worked for KPBS in San Diego, where she covered City Hall.

Katie received her masters degree in political science from San Diego State University and holds a Bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from Arizona State University.

In 2015 Katie won a national Clarion Award for a series of stories she did on women in California politics. She's been honored by the Society for Professional Journalists and, in 2013, was named by The Washington Post as one of the country's top state Capitol reporters.   She's also reported for the award-winning documentary series The View from Here and was part of the team that won  national PRNDI and  Gabriel Awards in 2015. She lives in Sacramento with her husband. Twitter: @1KatieOrr

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor