Call for Action to Oppose Overtime Bill AB 1066

Overtime Bill AB 1066 Needs Immediate Opposition

By Laurie Greene, Editor

California Assembly Bill (AB) 1066 to change overtime requirements for agricultural workers is returning as a “gut and amend”* measure scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on June 29, 2016. Emily Rooney, president of the Agricultural Council of California (Ag Council), is urging the agricultural industry to tell the State Senate TODAY how this bill would hurt farmworker wages.

California Senate SealCalifornia already requires agricultural employers to provide overtime pay to farmworkers after they work 10 hours in one day and 60 hours in one week, which recognizes the flexibility that farmers and employees need given the variable nature of farming and seasonal labor. Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), AB 1066, phases in a new overtime wage law requiring California farmers to pay agricultural workers overtime after eight hours in one day or 40 hours in one week by the year 2022.

Rooney says AB 1066 adds an unnecessary regulatory burden on the agricultural industry, and, combined with the recently passed $15 minimum wage law, makes it difficult for farmers in the state to remain competitive. “We do need six democrats to vote with us to oppose the bill, which will be a challenge,” said Rooney. “The Senate is left of center, at least compared to the Assembly, but we are working very hard to secure those votes and just hope that the bill doesn’t get back to the Assembly.”

Rooney said the Assembly killed a similar bill earlier this month. “It is very disappointing that the bill has been repackaged and presented to the Senate as a gut and amend bill, AB 1066,” she said. “The new bill was basically reintroduced less than two weeks after we defeated it in the Assembly.”

agricultural-council-of-california-logo140Rooney stressed the importance that the Senate not approve AB 1066, because should the Senate approve it, the bill would go back to the Assembly because both houses are needed to pass the bill. “And while the earlier bill failed in the Assembly, we are not sure that it would fail again,” she said.

There are Assembly legislators who voted against it before, who are willing to vote against it again, said Rooney, “but the timing of it is really unfortunate. We expect that while the legislators are on summer recess in July, they may have time to build up support for the bill. It’s the end of session, and we have a number of challenges to defeat the bill; but we are hopeful that if the California Senate does not defeat it, the Assembly will,” said Rooney.

Rooney suggested those who oppose AB 1066 go to the post, “Oppose Gut & Amend Legislation to Change Ag Overtime Wage Requirements” on the Ag Council Action Center webpage“to easily send an opposition letter to their state legislator.

*GUT AND AMEND, according to the California State Legislature Glossary of Legislative Terms describes when amendments to a bill remove the current contents in their entirety and replace them with different provisions.

Featured Photo:   Emily Rooney, president Agricultural Council of California

Henry Perea Honored

Ag Council Recognizes Assemblyman Henry Perea with Influential Legislator Award

During its annual Legislative Day held this week, Agricultural Council of California (Ag Council) recognized Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno) with the inaugural Influential Legislator Award.

“Assemblyman Perea personifies what is good in a political leader,” said Emily Rooney, President of Ag Council. “He has found ways to collaborate on issues that have allowed him to help his constituents, but have also been good policy for the entire state. And, even on issues where we may not agree, he always maintains an open door policy to Ag Council and its members.”

Since coming into office in 2010, Perea has tackled some of California’s toughest issues head-on, including water policy. His district represents the heart of agriculture in California, and as a moderate Democrat he’s been sensitive to not only how important the industry is to the economy, but also in providing employment to many of his constituents.

Ag Council Chairman, Brendon Flynn, a farmer with Sunsweet Growers and Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno)
Ag Council Chairman, Brendon Flynn, a farmer with Sunsweet Growers and Assemblyman Henry T. Perea (D-Fresno)

“Assemblyman Perea was a leading advocate for securing the $2.7 billion in funding for water storage in the 2014 water bond package. At the same time, he spoke out against the overly burdensome Sustainable Groundwater Management Act last year, demonstrating the he truly understands that a healthy ag economy is good for the entire state of California,” said Brendon Flynn, Chairman of Ag Council who presented the award to Perea.

Perea’s leadership has made impacts in several areas of agricultural policy. He is currently serving as the Assembly Ag Committee Chair, and has embraced that role by seeking to learn more about California’s number one industry. Assemblyman Perea has authored a bill to help fix some of the implementation issues with last year’s groundwater legislation. In 2013, he brought together a diverse coalition to pass Assembly Bill 8, which provides funds to help lower costs for farmers who choose cleaner burning vehicles.

“This award was created to recognize legislators who might go outside of traditional roles, whether they be Republican or Democrat, and do what is actually best for the state, its residents, and the future of agriculture,” added Rooney.

Assemblyman Perea received the Influential Legislator Award during the Ag Council Annual Legislative Day in Sacramento. This award will be given on an annual basis to legislators who embody that same collaborative approach to finding positive outcomes for agriculture and all of California.