“Farmworkers need changes to Washington state’s new farming overtime law right away to help them boost their paychecks, as has been proposed in the state legislature with Senate Bill 5476.
Watching today’s state Senate Labor & Commerce Committee hearing on the bill, it was deeply disappointing that despite the hardship the new overtime law has caused tens of thousands of farmworkers, some activist groups are instead opposing these changes needed to bring immediate relief for workers.
We’re troubled to see that even after nearly 300 workers rallied for change at the state Capitol just last week, the extreme activist groups today refused again to acknowledge the burden the new law has placed on farmworkers.
On top of sidestepping workers’ concerns, in their remarks the groups actually accused the hundreds of farmworkers who rallied at the Capitol of being misled and not understanding what’s best for their families.
The activists’ accusations are offensive, and their denial of real farmworkers’ hardships as a result of the new law is insulting.
We hope the lawmakers considering this important proposal to help farmworkers can see through the false accusations of these activist groups, who appear to be unwilling to admit their role in pushing for the very rules now devastating so many hardworking families across Washington state.”
UPCOMING EVENT: Hundreds of Farm Workers Expected to Gather on Thursday, Jan. 25 at WA State Capitol to Speak Out on Problems with New State Ag Overtime Law
Event comes after nearly 1,000 farm workers gathered in series of events across state voicing frustration with new law causing significant decrease in take-home pay
OLYMPIA, Wash. - Hundreds of farmworkers are expected to gather outside the Washington State Capitol in Olympia Thursday, Jan. 25, holding a rally to speak out about the harm the state’s new overtime law for farm work is causing them, including lower-income and less time at home with family.
The new law has resulted in a significant loss of take-home pay for farmworkers in Washington, echoing the findings of a Cal Berkeley study on impacts of California’s similar change in agricultural wage laws. Coupled with the rapid increase in the cost of living, overtime restrictions are deeply harming workers’ economic situations here in Washington state as well.
The phase-in of overtime pay requirements for agricultural work in Washington state reduced work hours for farm workers. Farms already face thin margins and are making changes to try to stay in business despite skyrocketing costs and stagnant prices for their crops.
Nearly 1,000 farmworkers gathered at events across eastern Washington to speak out on this issue, and they say they will continue to gather and voice their frustration until leaders in Olympia make changes to allow them to make more money.
Thursday’s event at the state Capitol’s north steps will feature several speakers sharing how the new law is affecting them, providing information about the evolving issue and giving workers an opportunity to have their perspective heard. Speakers include:
Numerous videos of farm workers speaking out about this issue are availalbe on Protect Farm Workers Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.
Protect Farm Workers Now is a project of Save Family Farming, a 501(c)5 non-profit advocating for the Washington farming community, and is collaborating on this effort with the Center for Latino Leadership, a 503(c)3 non-profit promoting bipartisan conversation and collaboration on the issues that truly matter to Washington state’s Latino community. Visit centerforlatinoleaders.org
Farm workers all over Washington state are saying the same thing to Olympia:
“Just let us work!”
Washington state is now the only state in the nation that doesn't allow farm workers to have seasonal flexibility in the hours they work, despite the fact that their jobs are deeply connected to Mother Nature's cycles of harvest followed by rest and rebirth.
Workers are telling us over and over that this is hurting their ability to make as much money as they want, forcing them to instead take second and third jobs to support their families.
This is the unintended consequence of changes state government made to farm labor rules without listening to the very people that are impacted.
Instead of making things better, they made life worse for Washington's farm workers.
Farm workers deserve a solution to this crisis.
Three Washington Supreme Court Justices demonstrate remarkable ignorance of key facts about farmworkers and reveal deeply offensive prejudice.
A November 5, 2020 a ruling by five of the nine justices overturned a 61 year old state law that told farmers how to pay their employees. That opened the door wide to class action lawyers. Lawyers from as far away as Los Angeles jumped at the opportunity the court provided and now over 30 lawsuits have been filed against farmers. More are coming all the time. The lawyers are demanding three years back pay to employees. It doesn’t matter to them that farmers were following the law and did nothing wrong nor that farmworkers were well and fairly paid.
Even worse, now Senator Saldaña is demanding that all farmers pay three years back pay--and with penalties. It is terribly unjust to change the law and then punish people for following the law because it was suddenly changed. If a speed limit changed, should you be fined for each time you violated the new limit in the past? This unfair demand would destroy farms and the thousands of jobs that depend on them.
Does Senator Saldaña know the harm her actions would cause? Yes, because she heard from over 550 farmworkers, farmers and supporters who told her clearly in a senate hearing that their farms and jobs would be lost. (Watch the video here.)
This problem is all based on the judges’ wrong opinions. These ideas appear to be shared by Senator Saldaña and lawmakers who support her.
Three judges signed an opinion that shows how far their understanding of farmworkers is from reality. Their opinion demonstrates remarkable ignorance of the facts, but much worse, it shows a great disregard for the dignity and pride of these hard working and productive people.
Read the detailed FACT CHECK, then download it and share it with all who care about farmworkers, their jobs and the farms where they work.
To download without creating a SCRIBD account, click below:
In November 2020 the Washington Supreme Court made a momentous decision. They overturned longstanding state law that saw farm work as different from most other work with a need for flexibility in the hours workers could work. "Make hay when the sunshines" still is important for farming. The five out of nine judges who took this action apparently do not understand that farmers cannot raise prices to pass the increased labor costs on. To stay in business, farmers have had to make adjustments.
As this video will show, employees the judges thought they were helping, are deeply unhappy with this decision.
One very disturbing result of the state Supreme Court decision is the flood of litigation launched against Washington's family dairy farmers claiming that now these farmers owe three years back pay to their employees. This, despite the fact that farmers have been following the law on employee pay for years, and that if successful, these actions will mean the end of almost all but the very largest farms in Washington state.
Eager lawyers jumped on the opening left by the Supreme Court decision and have filed suits against over 20 farms. They claim that farmers now owe workers three years back pay. When farmers have been faithfully following a longstanding state law in paying workers, how can it be fair they are now penalized for following the law? If these lawsuits succeed through court action or settlements, we will see a rapid loss of most of our family farms with only the largest, most efficient farms able to survive.
Please read the detailed explanation, download it and pass it on.
To download without creating a SCRIBD account, click below: