Two back-to-back overtime victories in the California capitol are perfect examples of what can happen after years of perseverance and keeping up the drumbeat for social justice.
Governor Jerry Brown signed two historic overtime protections into law on Monday -AB 1066 (Gonzalez) and SB 1015 (Leyva). AB 1066 will extend equitable overtime standards to farmworkers for the first time in history. Farmworkers were first excluded from the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act, which set standards for minimum wage, child labor laws, overtime pay and more. Later, in 1976, Governor Jerry Brown (yes the same Jerry Brown!) signed into law a modified standard for farmworkers: a 10 hour workday and a 60 hour work week. Forty years later, Governor Brown heard the voices of working people standing together to fight for overtime equality and signed AB 1066, which will gradually phase in the standards we all know and love to farmworkers: an 8 hour day and 40 hour workweek.
Author of the bill, State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez said of the victory:
“This is a truly historic day in California. Thanks to an incredible coalition of workers, lawmakers, labor, environmentalists and individually committed Californians, we have finally righted a 78-year wrong for farmworkers,” said Gonzalez. “The hundreds of thousands of men and women who work in California’s fields, dairies and ranches feed the world and anchor our economy. They will finally be treated equally under the law. It is a good day.”
US Labor Secretary Tom Perez also applauded the new standards:
“People who work on farms and in our homes are some of America’s most vulnerable workers. We all depend on their work to feed and care for our families, but far too often they can’t afford to put food on their own dinner tables. Today, Gov. Jerry Brown signed two new laws to ensure critical overtime protections for these workers. With these laws, California farmworkers will have the same overtime protections that workers in other industries have enjoyed for decades, and overtime protections for domestic workers implemented in 2013 will continue. I commend Gov. Brown for ensuring strong, sensible safeguards for farmworkers and their families, and I commend the California legislature for their ongoing efforts to protect the most vulnerable workers in their state.”
Similarly, Governor Brown signed the 2016 Domestic Worker Bill of Rights on Monday, making overtime protections for domestic workers permanent in California law. Domestic Workers had previously won temporary workplace protections, including overtime pay, that were set to expire in January 2017. The #DignityRising campaign sought to prevent this step in the wrong direction and keep equitable standards for domestic workers. And they won!
Senator Leyva, who authored SB 1015, said after the signing:
“I thank Governor Brown for signing SB 1015, since this critically important legislation will allow domestic workers to continue receiving overtime now and into the future,” Senator Leyva said. “By eliminating the original sunset date on AB 241, SB 1015 will make sure that domestic workers in California continue to receive a fair wage with overtime for their daily hard work. This year, I have been so honored to meet and work alongside hundreds of domestic workers that help so many individuals, families and communities, as well as the many committed advocates and supporters that have been fighting tirelessly for years to ensure that domestic workers receive the dignity that they rightfully deserve.”
These two incredible victories continue to show that when working people stand together, we raise standards for ALL. Onward!