Calif. guv signs historic domestic and farm worker bills

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SACRAMENTO, California -- Governor Jerry Brown on Monday, Sept. 12 signed into law two historic pieces of legislation that permanently preserve overtime protections for California’s privately hired domestic workers and expands overtime pay for farm workers.

Effective January 1, 2017, the law replaces a narrowly focused 2013 law and protects over 300,000 domestic workers that serve as housekeepers, nannies, and caregivers in private homes in California. Most domestic workers are immigrants. Most foreign-born Asian domestic workers are Filipino.

“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,” State Senator Connie M. Leyva (Dem-Chino) said.

“This vital legislation will permanently codify overtime protections into state law and an improved quality of life for hundreds of thousands of domestic workers in California,” Leyva added. The legislation was supported by legislators on both sides of the aisle, as well as a coalition of over 100 community, labor, education and legal rights organizations.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday also signed historic legislation that would expand overtime pay for California farm workers.

Assembly Bill 1066, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena S. Gonzalez (Dem-San Diego), calls for a phase-in of new overtime rules over four years beginning in 2019.

It would lower the current 10-hour-day threshold for overtime by half an hour each year until it reaches the standard eight-hour day by 2022. It also would phase in a 40-hour standard workweek for the first time, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The governor would be able to suspend any part of the process for a year depending on economic conditions. Brown’s signing followed heated debates on the State Assembly floor.

All agricultural workers were excluded from the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established minimum wage and overtime standards. Most farm workers at the time were black.

The California Legislature exempted farm workers from earning overtime pay in 1941, until 1976, when the state Industrial Welfare Commission ordered overtime pay for farm workers after 10 hours on the job on any single day and 60 hours in a week, according to the LA Times.

Hourly workers in other jobs across the state receive overtime after eight hours a day and 40 hours a week.