The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

California Farm Workers’ Overtime Bill

Oct 3, 2016

In September, California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation granting agricultural workers the same right to overtime pay as other California workers. More than 825,000 farm workers will be affected by this law.

In 1938 the Federal Labor Standards Act laid out the overtime compensation rules, but excluded most agricultural workers from these benefits to appease the Southern post-civil-war plantations that still employed mainly black farm workers. That should come as no surprise in this racist society.

This recent California law, extending overtime to agricultural workers, comes along 80 years later. It doesn’t remedy all the hours of overtime that were not paid for 80 years. And, just like a slap in the face, it won’t even be immediately effective. For the large farms, workers working more than 9½ hours a day or 55 hours a week will be entitled to time-and-a-half pay, but not for three more years. And not until six years from now, will farm workers reach the 40-hour-week threshold. So, the farm workers will be stiffed out of the overtime pay for many years to come.

With an average income of $18,000 a year, farm workers can barely pay for their rent and their survival. Many studies found that the California farm workers struggle to afford the very food they produce.

As for California agricultural business, it brings in more than 50 billion dollars a year. These businesses boast that they are feeding the world.

No, the wealth and the food are there, but in the clutches of the rich business owners.