Apparently, it’s big news that California Governor Jerry Brown [ht: sm] just signed a bill that, for the first time, means farmworkers in that state will be entitled to the same overtime pay as most other hourly workers
But this is the United States. So, the law only takes effect beginning in 2019. And it will lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. (It will also phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time.) And the governor will be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions.
But, still, it’s a vast improvement over what exists now—in California and across the United States.
In California, employers currently must pay time-and-a half to farmworkers after 10 hours in a day or 60 hours in a week. That only happened beginning in 1976, since before that (dating back to 1941), the California Legislature exempted farmworkers from earning any overtime pay.
And U.S. federal law is even worse. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established minimum wage and overtime standards, excluded all agricultural workers, the majority of whom at the time were African American.
Even now, the amended Fair Labor Standards Act, which states that all workers (including farmworkers, except those employed on “small farms”) need to paid at least the federal minimum wage, still exempts farmworkers from the overtime pay requirements that apply to all other hourly workers.
Ah, what a country!