Valley farmer says overtime bill will hurt business, employees

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The Caruthers farmer said his employees will lose 12 hours a week and he would have to hire part-time employees to make up for it. (KFSN)

The controversial Ag Overtime Bill has been signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. This means farmworkers will soon be able to earn overtime pay after 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week. Some farmers said lawmakers may have had good intentions but it will take away money from their workers.

Matthew Efird said AB 1066 will make work difficult on his farm in Caruthers.

"Unfortunately, it passed and we're just going to have to deal with it," he said.

The governor signed the bill on Tuesday, giving farmworkers in California the same overtime rights as other hourly workers.

"It's going to mean adjustments in our operation," Efird said.

For decades, farm labor has been under a separate set of rules that had farm workers work longer days and more hours a week before time-and-a-half kicks in. Under this new law, Efird said he will have to make cuts or risk losing money.

"Whether that is minimizing the overtime when we can or reducing the employee's hours to stay under the 40 hour work week," he explained.

On average, he said his employees will lose 12 hours a week and he would have to hire part-time employees to make up for it. Still, the United farm workers say this is groundbreaking legislation. That ends 78 years of exclusion and in a statement, the union's president Arturo Rodriguez said, "Today, Governor Brown corrected a historic wrong and set an example for other states to follow."

"Frustrating for us also that one labor group, that represents less than one percent of all farm workers, somehow was able to sway the vote in Sacramento that's going to affect all these employees," Efird said.

For Efird, it's just one more problem stacked on top of the drought and rising minimum wage. And he said it could put smaller farms out of business.
Related Topics:
newsfarmingjerry brownfresno countyCaruthers
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