CAWG Gears Up to Fight New Overtime Bill

Following Defeat of Overtime Bill AB 2757, CAWG Gears up to Fight New Overtime Bill AB 1066

By Laurie Greene, Editor

 

California Assembly Bill 2757, which called to end the 10-hour workday for farm laborers (by enforcing overtime) and to illuminate extra work time opportunities, was voted down in June 2016, but a new version of the bill, AB 1066, is back on the drawing table.

 

Brad Goehringtreasurer of the California Association of Winegrape Growers (CAWG) Board of Directors and current chair of the CAWG State Government Affairs Committee, spoke about the process of fighting back on this bill. “We already beat it and we had a major victory in the California State Assembly earlier in the year. The author of the bill didn’t like that result, and it is all union-backed and backed by taxpayer groups like California Rural Legal Association, Inc. (CRLA),” Goehring said.

 

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“But the pressure is back,” said Goehring, also a fourthgeneration winegrape grower and owner of Goehring Vineyards, in Clements, near Lodi. “They did a dirty gut and amend bill¹, which is a slide of hand and basically reintroduces the bill again under a different bill number. This time it’s going to start in the Senate and we’re expecting a tough battle; but we’ve got a very organized coalition of Ag associations and we’re going to put the same energy into fighting this that we did before,” explained Goehring.

 

“It was a bloody fight in the Assembly,” noted Goehring. “But still, we’re optimistic as there are plenty of no votes from the party that wanted this to go through that we think it will be hard for the governor to sign even if [the bill] makes that far.

 

Goehring maintained, “The key is to educate legislators that the bill would hurt farmworkers because it would force farmers to minimize work hours to prevent overtime payroll. In fact, farmworkers are pushing for this second bill to fail.”

 

“Where the lack of understanding lies is the clear line between the urban legislators and the rural legislators,” Goehring commented. “The urban legislators, ironically, are the ones who already hav $15 minimum wage laws in their towns—San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. These legislators are trying to cram it down our throats and our lives here in the rural areas. We’re not having any real hard times getting to agreement with either party, if they are in the rural areas. It’s the urban ones that are doing all the damage.”

 

“We’ve had these legislators out to our farms. We’ve walked away and let them talk openly with our employees, and our employees have told them they don’t want it,” Goehring said. “Our employees have told them that they want to make an honest living. They want to teach their kids how to do the same thing. Our employees have taken it one step further; we overheard them telling the legislators they are not even in favor of any of the entitlement programs because that’s not the way to make an honest living that they want for their kids.”

 

“With all that said,” Goehring concluded, “the urban legislators are turning their backs on and ignoring our employees. This is all about unions and CRLA. They don’t care about the employees—is basically what they’re saying,” noted Goehring.

 


¹GUT AND AMEND is when amendments to a bill remove the current contents in their entirety and replace them with different provisions. (Source:  California State Legislature Glossary of Legislative Terms).

Henry Gonzales, Ventura County Ag Commissioner

Ventura County Ag Commissioner Henry Gonzales Started as Fieldworker

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Deputy Editor

California Ag Today interviewed Henry Gonzales, Ventura County Ag Commissioner, who has served in that post for 7 years. His unique story begins with his birth in Fresno and his work in the California fields at an early age.

Gonzales: My parents were migrant farmworkers, and back in the day, there was no day care for us, so they took us to the fields with them. I like to think I my career started in agriculture when I was old enough to pick up a plum and put it in their basket. We worked a lot in the Fresno area, but also in the San Jose area and Imperial County, following the crops as most migrant farmers do.

CalAgToday: You started working as a child, and what happened next? Did you and your family continue as a farmworkers?

Gonzales: We continued farm working for many years. We used to live in farm labor camps, whenever they were available. Sometimes we stayed with relatives or anywhere we could find. There were times when the only places we could find were the trees in the orchard, so sometimes we stayed there.

CalAgToday: So, when you were 13, you went off on your own?

Gonzales: Yes, when I was 13, I did what I thought I should do—work under my own social security card. I started working in the fields around Salinas. I was actually in the same lettuce harvesting crew with my grandfather who was 69 at the time.

CalAgToday: Well, Henry, walk me through it. How many years did you work with your grandfather?

Gonzales: I worked every summer and weekends since I was 13 through high school in the fields around Salinas.

This painting was done by Henry Gonzales's mother depicting his early work in the fields
This painting was done by Henry Gonzales’s mother depicting his early work in the fields.

 

 

CalAgToday: Tell me about high school.

Gonzales: I felt very strongly about completing high school because I know my parents did not. But you may find it interesting that when I was working in the fields around Salinas, I was a card-carrying member of the United Farm Workers (UFW).

CalAgToday: So the UFW recruited you early, or were you a supporter?

Gonzales: Well, it was a closed-shop situation; if you worked in that company, you were a member. So I believe I am the only ag commissioner who was once a card-carrying member of the UFW.

CalAgToday: And why is that significant to you, Henry?

Gonzales: As you know, in agriculture, farmworkers are, almost literally, the backbone of the industry. They are the ones doing all the heavy lifting. So, having that background really provides me with a broader perspective because I can understand farming from the ground level up. Coupled with my Bachelor of Science degree in agricultural science, my field work experience has given me a well-rounded background for agriculture.

I started working for the Monterey County Ag Commissioner’s office over 30 years ago. All Ag Commissioners start at the bottom of the organization, so I began as an agricultural inspector-biologist and worked my way up to deputy, chief deputy, and then seven years ago, I became Ag Commissioner here in Ventura County.

CalAgToday: So suddenly a job became available in Ventura County?

Gonzales: That was kind of interesting. I was in Monterey County with a great job, a great boss, and I could do pretty much what I wanted. But I got a call from Ventura County inviting me to apply for their ag commissioner position. I checked with my wife, and she said ‘Sure, why not? Try it!’ I did, and as they say, the rest is history.

I applied and got the position. I was reappointed here three years ago, and I am hoping to do at least one more term after my current term is over. I think all my years working for the Monterey County Ag Commissioner’s office, my degree in Ag Science, and my master’s in public administration, coupled with my childhood years working in the field really gives me a broad background in agriculture, especially as it exists in Ventura County and in the state of California.

CalAgToday: How did you have time to get a masters degree in public administration?

Gonzales: Well, while I was working for Monterey County, I spent a lot of sleepless nights and weekends in order to earn that degree from Golden Gate University’s satellite office in Monterey.

CalAgToday: When you look back, you have come so far from your beginnings as a farmworker, and you have seen so much. How do you put all of that together?

Gonzales: My experience has provided me with the broadest perspective, so when I deal with a challenging issue, I can see it from all vantage points, and that is very helpful to me in doing my job.

 

ACP Quarantine Expands in Santa Clara County

ACP Quarantine Adds Another 61 Square Miles to the North

Announced TODAY, the Asian citrus psyllid or ACP Quarantine has expanded to include an additional portion of Santa Clara County following the detection of multiple psyllids in and around the City of San Jose.

The quarantine expansion adds 61 square miles to the north, bringing the total quarantine area to 160 square miles. A map is available online at: www.cdfa.ca.gov/plant/go/acp-quarantine. Residents with backyard citrus trees in the quarantine area are asked not to transport or send citrus fruit or leaves, potted citrus trees, or curry leaves from the quarantine area.

In addition to quarantines in portions of Santa Clara, Fresno, Kern, San Joaquin, and San Luis Obispo counties, ACP entire-county quarantines remain in place in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura counties.

The ACP is an invasive species of grave concern because it can carry the disease huanglongbing (HLB), also known as citrus greening. All citrus and closely related species, such as curry trees, are susceptible hosts for both the insect and the disease. There is no cure once a tree becomes infected, the diseased tree will decline in health and produce bitter, misshaped fruit until it dies. HLB has been detected just once in California – in 2012 on a single residential property in Hacienda Heights, Los Angeles County. This plant disease does not affect human health.

Residents in the area who think they may have seen ACP or symptoms of HLB on their citrus trees are urged to call CDFA’s Pest Hotline at 1-800-491-1899. For more information on the ACP and HLB, please visit: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/acp.