Farm workers were written out of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which established the minimum wage and overtime
The Fairness for Farmworkers Act of 2022 was introduced in the United States Senate today by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Cali.). If passed and signed, the legislation would extend overtime pay to all U.S. farm workers who were excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938, which established the federal minimum wage and overtime rules.
“It is hard to believe that overtime exclusion for the men and women that feed America still persists 84 years after the creation of the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “Allowing the agriculture industry to perpetuate fundamentally racist, Jim Crow-era exclusions was wrong then and it is wrong now. We thank Senator Padilla for accepting farm workers’ invitations to “Take Our Jobs” and for working alongside the workers who are the backbone of our food system. These workers are denied the right to overtime pay even though they do backbreaking work, and we are encouraged that this will be the year to change that.”
“The discriminatory exclusion of farm workers from overtime pay has continued for far too long. It is time we right this grievous national wrong by finally extending overtime pay to all U.S. farm workers. Farm workers help put food on our tables and deserve equal workplace rights,” said UFW Foundation Executive Director Diana Tellefson Torres. “We would like to thank Senator Padilla for authoring this bill and for his leadership and willingness to experience what it is like to work in the fields as part of our “Take Our Jobs” campaign. His actions have given us renewed hope that lawmakers will give farm workers the rights they deserve.”
Currently, California is the only state that provides overtime pay to all agricultural workers after 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. In Washington state, only dairy workers currently receive overtime pay after working 40 hours a week. All other WA state farm workers receive overtime pay after working 55 hours per week—that cap will drop to 40 hours per week in 2024. Few other states, such as New York, offer overtime pay to farm workers but at higher thresholds, while the overwhelming majority do not have overtime pay for farm workers whatsoever.