Gallagher Introduces Bill to Address Unintended Consequences of Ag Employee Overtime Law

New Research Shows Workers Lost Hours, Wages  

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Republican Leader James Gallagher (Yuba City) has introduced AB 3056 to reform California’s agricultural overtime laws to ensure employees are paid fairly while avoiding the cuts to workers’ hours that have occurred under the existing system.

In 2016, AB 1066 eliminated exemptions for agricultural workers from California’s overtime wage law. This law requires farmworkers to receive overtime pay after eight work hours in a day or after 40 work hours in a week. This approach failed to recognize the distinct nature of agricultural work, characterized by its seasonal aspects, reliance on natural factors, and handling of perishable goods.

I am committed to striking a balance that ensures fair treatment for agricultural workers while also considering the needs of California’s farmers. This bill aims to address the unintended consequences of AB 1066, safeguarding both worker rights and the vitality of California agriculture,” said Gallagher.

Opponents of the original legislation predicted that, although well-intentioned, the bill would impose additional burdens on California farms, drive down wages, and lead to job cuts. California’s farmers would struggle to compete against other states and nations that do not mandate overtime, while farmworkers would see their hours capped below the overtime threshold, limiting their earnings. Recent research validated these concerns, showing a decline in worker hours and wages as a result of AB 1066.

AB 3056 proposes a balanced adjustment to farmworker overtime requirements. It mandates overtime pay for agricultural employees working more than nine hours in a workday or in excess of 50 hours in a workweek, which is stricter than the pre-AB 1066 requirement of 10 hours. This adjustment aims to ensure fair compensation for workers while maintaining flexibility to prevent significant reductions in hours and wages.

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Assemblyman James Gallagher represents the 3rd Assembly District, which encompasses all of Glenn, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba counties as well as portions of Butte and Colusa counties.