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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Outrage at continued injustice towards farm workers in California

I got word earlier this morning that Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1121 - the bill authored by Senator Dean Florez that would have given farm workers some of the same rights as other employees - overtime pay. I have been too upset to be able to write coherent sentences until now.

First of all, I want to thank everyone who made their calls to encourage Schwarzenegger to sign - we first sent a request out on July 12th.

I am still at a loss right now on how to deal with my anger and sadness.

I have left a message for the author of the bill, Senator Dean Florez – who too must be beside himself. His parents and grandparents were farm workers. You can read his powerful quotes here:

Geez....anyone think it might be hard for the movie star turned governor to understand what it must be like for the workers?

His reason: "In vetoing the measure, Schwarzenegger cited the fragile economy and said that extending overtime protections could put farms out of business, or result in lower paychecks for agricultural workers because farmers would hire more people and cut hours to avoid paying overtime."

Really? I would think that paying workers (who already get paid very little) overtime might actually benefit them. And by putting more money in their pockets, benefit the economy. I guess the difference is that this type of thinking only benefits the farms. Well, what about hiring more workers then to cover the extra work that needs to be done. That would help with unemployment, right? Right? I mean, am I speaking a different language? All of this seems to me to just benefit the farms and that is all that he had in mind when he vetoed this bill.

This is a governor who is not even up for re-election – here was his opportunity to pass a bill that would have been the first of its kind in the nation giving benefits to farm workers. Workers who we know suffer from the loopholes in agricultural laws. Farm workers who are still exposed to agricultural chemicals that cause cancer. Farm workers who still, to this day, are dying in the fields to put food on our tables.

On everyone’s tables – every single one of us.

Including his.

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