Overtime for Farm Workers
All farm workers deserve overtime pay. When the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) established federal standards for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other workplace protections, it explicitly excluded agricultural workers from these rights. Why? Southern segregationist lawmakers did not hide their bigoted motivation, arguing white and African American workers could not be paid the same and that extending farm workers overtime pay would lead to the end of racial discrimination.
Excluding farm workers from overtime pay was wrong then and it is wrong now. Although farm workers feed the nation, the mean and median income of a farm worker family ranges from only $20,000 and $24,999 a year.
This year, California became the first state in the nation to extend overtime pay to farm workers who work more than 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week, setting a historical precedent that must now be taken nationwide. AB1066, the California bill removing the racist exclusion of agricultural workers from overtime, passed in 2016— a major victory and the result of many years of advocacy by farm workers, UFW Foundation, the United Farm Workers, and allies like you. In addition to California, the state of Washington has also adopted overtime rules for dairy workers. But while overtime rules have been established in some states, there are many farm workers who still lack overtime pay.
Farm workers risk their lives through the pandemic, wildfires, and other extreme conditions, yet they are still fighting for their right to be treated equally. Farm workers are always essential and we must treat them as such—overtime protections are way overdue.
Let your senators and representatives know farm workers deserve overtime pay!
End the racist exclusion of farm workers from overtime pay. Extend overtime pay to farm workers nationwide.