As Assembly Bill 1066, which would grant overtime pay to California farm workers, heads for a vote in the Assembly, farm workers and faith and civil rights groups are fighting for the votes needed to pass it.
The fight for farm worker overtime is going down to the wire in the current legislative session, which will adjourn at the end of August. And as Assembly Bill 1066, which would require it, moves through the legislature, Jewish and African-American organizations have made a commitment to win the votes it needs for passage.
For the state’s first hundred-plus years, certain unspoken rules governed California politics. In a state where agriculture produced more wealth than any industry, the first rule was that growers held enormous power.
Consuelo Mendez was 23 when she arrived in the United States 45 years ago, looking for work. In Ventura County she found it, harvesting strawberries, tomatoes, cabbage, parsley and spinach.
As soon as Anastasia Flores’ children were old enough, she brought them with her to work in the fields. “Ever since 1994 I’ve always worked by myself, until my children could also work,” she recalls.