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Legislation would allow farm workers to earn overtime pay

Fairness for Farmworkers Act would phase out this discriminatory exclusion 


WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 25, 2018) — For the last 80 years, farm workers —who often endure more than 10 or even 12 hour shifts performing backbreaking work have been excluded from the protections of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 that guaranteed the right to overtime pay for most workers. The discrimination continues today. Eighty years after the FLSA’s passage, our nation’s 2.5 million farmworkers are still waiting for the right to overtime pay.

A new proposal, the Fairness for Farmworkers Act was just introduced in Congress by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) that would right this wrong. It would remove farm worker exemptions from the FLSA. Just as the 2016 California legislation, it will phase-in overtime pay over a period of four years.

TAKE A STAND — The UFW and their supporters urge all to click here to contact your members of Congress to urge them to support the Fairness for Farmworkers Act.

The exclusion of agricultural workers from the minimum wage and overtime pay has always been discriminatory. America’s history of agricultural exceptionalism is rooted in racism and political expediency. The sponsors of the New Deal-era labor legislation mustered enough votes for passage by appeasing legislators from southern states with the exclusion of agricultural workers from these protections. At the time, the farmworker population in the South was predominantly African American, and often was subjected to plantation-like conditions.

Today, the majority of agricultural workers are Latino. Discrimination in our immigration and labor laws has persisted over the decades, depriving farmworkers of basic workplace protections and fundamental civil, human, and democratic rights. 

The Fairness for Farmworkers Act would remedy the discriminatory exclusion of farmworkers from the FLSA. Under the legislation, people working in agriculture would be entitled to time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours in a week. Like the law recently passed in California—the largest agricultural state in the nation—the bill phases in overtime pay over a period of 4 years.

More than 100 social justice and labor advocacy organizations, including the United Farm Workers (UFW), Farmworker Justice, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP, Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, National Employment Law Project, UFW Foundation, the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, and many other groups stand in support of the Fairness for Farm Workers Act. Farmworkers must be treated equally under the law.

Please send a message to members of Congress today to urge their support of the Fairness for Farmworkers Act.

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