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Schwarzenegger Vetoes Changes To Farm Workers’ Overtime

— California farm workers receive overtime pay after working 10 hours in a single day. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation to change that to match the eight-hour rule for other hourly workers. The San Diego County Farm Bureau said his veto benefits local farmers and their employees.

Harvesting crops depends on a fickle combination of weather and the short period of time when produce is ripe.

The governor cited these as special circumstances when he vetoed legislation that would require farm workers be paid overtime after eight hours.

San Diego County Farm Bureau Executive Director Eric Larson agrees. He said local farmers would have simply hired more workers to cover the long hours harvesting requires.

“For the farmers, the issue was a burden of management that they would have worked their way through by having a larger workforce. For the farm workers, the deficit would have been a loss of hours,” he said.

United Farm Workers representatives said the change would have forced farmers to make a choice that managers in any other industries already face: whether to hire more workers or pay more for the efficiency of having an experienced worker on the job longer.

They say a short harvesting window is no excuse and agricultural workers should be treated like other hourly employees.

California, Hawaii and Maryland are the only states where farm workers currently receive any overtime pay.

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