Push to get overtime pay for farm workers nationwide

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Farm workers have long sought the kind of overtime pay available in other industries.

A state law which goes into effect next year will require growers to pay overtime to ag workers after eight hours.

Now a federal push to expand overtime pay comes on the 80th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Despite working long hours in the valley heat, farm laborers don't receive any overtime after putting in eight hours.

United Farm Workers Organizing Coordinator Lizbeth Valdez said, "Farmworkers work around 10 to 12 hours a day with the back-breaking hard work, where that's the reason that we believe that it's totally wrong and has been wrong for a long time."

Democratic members of Congress and the Senate introduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act. It would require overtime pay for farm laborers after 40 hours a week.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) said, "This bill will attempt to correct some of the injustices they face, and in particular guarantee, they will get overtime pay."

But some valley farmers say the state law will lead to reduced worker hours to avoid paying overtime.

Valdez doesn't believe that will be the case. She said, "We have growers, and we have companies actually on the union, they've been telling us, 'We cannot find workers.' So for us, it's kind of hard to understand their point of view."

Currently, farm workers don't receive overtime until after 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week.

Growers maintain the seasonal nature of the job requires extended work hours only during harvest.
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