IRVINE, CA – Amidst the controversy that has surrounded the bill since its initial conception, yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1066 into law.
Western Growers CEO Tom Nassif has responded to the signing with disappointment over the bill's enactment.
“The Governor has set in motion a chain of events that will cause workers in our fields to lose wages. It is one thing to dismiss the rationale for a seasonal industry to have a 10-hour overtime threshold rather than an eight-hour threshold. It something entirely worse to dismiss economic reality,” stated Nassif, in a press release.
The bill calls for the removal of the state’s current exemption for agricultural employees “regarding hours, meal breaks, and other working conditions, including specified wage requirements, and would create a schedule that would phase in overtime requirements for agricultural workers, as defined, over the course of four years, from 2019 to 2022, inclusive,” according to the legislation.
“Our farmers compete with farmers in other states and countries with no overtime costs, far lower minimum wages, reliable water supplies, and far less regulatory burden. California farmers will have no choice but to avoid even higher costs of production and they will utilize a number of strategies, including reducing work shifts and production of crops that require large numbers of employees. The box stores, grocery chains, and restaurant companies that buy fresh produce can and will purchase from growers in other states and countries to keep prices down. They don’t care about the high costs of operating in California. Neither, apparently, do a majority of the California Legislature or the Governor,” continued Nassif.
AB 1066 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown along with 24 other bills passed by state lawmakers during the 2016 legislative season, according to The Fresno Business Journal, and did not comment on the bill or its signing.
The bill and its measures will be enacted at the start of 2019.
AndNowUKnow will continue to report on this story as it continues to develop.