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Farm worker bill aimed at strengthening state heat regulations heads to Gov. Brown's desk

Farm worker bill aimed at strengthening state heat regulations heads to Gov. Brown's desk

Sacramento, CA - The California Assembly approved today AB 2346 by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey). The bill, also known as The Farm Worker Safety Act of 2012, will allow farm workers to sue employers who repeatedly fail to comply with mandatory requirements for shade and drinking water as spelled out under the state’s labor law.

The measure, which now heads to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk, would also make growers and the farm labor contractors they hire jointly liable if contractors fail to supply farm workers with shade and water when temperatures soar.

Since California issued the first heat regulation in the nation to prevent farm workers from dying of extreme heat in 2005, 16 farm workers have died from heat related illnesses. The deaths of two farm workers this summer are being investigated by Cal/OSHA.

Lawmakers are also expected to vote on two other UFW-backed farm worker bills seeking greater labor protections and overtime pay benefits.
AB 2676 by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier)
– This bill would make it a misdemeanor crime – punishable by jail time and fines – to not provide workers with appropriate water or shade. The bill would only apply to the agriculture industry. The measure passed the Senate last week and is expected to pass the Assembly this week.
AB 1313 Assemblyman Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa)
– This bill gives equal rights to field workers by giving them overtime pay after working an eight-hour day or 40 hours in a week. The initiative passed the Senate and is back to the Assembly for a final vote.
Farm workers were specifically excluded from the minimum wage and overtime protections of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which extended these rights to almost every other worker in the U.S. Most farm workers in the 1930s were African-Americans. Today, most farm workers are Latino.