WASHINGTON— Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva and 54 Members of Congress reintroduced the Fairness for Farm Workers Act to update the nation’s labor laws to ensure farm workers receive fair wages and compensation. The bill amends the Fair Labor Standards Act to end the overtime and minimum wage exemptions for farm workers. Since its passage in 1938, FLSA has excluded farm workers from receiving fair wages. The 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act established federal standards for minimum wage and overtime pay, but the law excluded millions of domestic and agriculture workers who were overwhelmingly people of color. Although farm workers gained some minimum wage protections in 1966, exclusions on overtime have persisted. The Fairness for Farm Workers Act would gradually implement overtime pay over the course of four years and bring greater equity to the American agricultural industry.
“Although we’ve praised farm workers throughout the pandemic for their essential work, our current labor laws don’t reflect the important role they play in picking the food we eat on our tables every day,” said Rep. Grijalva. “It’s long past time that we remedy the historic racism that excluded farm workers from the FLSA in the first place and finally pay them the wages they deserve. It’s unacceptable that those who endure the backbreaking labor every day to safeguard our food supply continue living in poverty.”
“The exclusion of farm workers from basic overtime protections forces countless workers to endure long, difficult hours for inadequate pay,” said House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott. “The Fairness for Farm Workers Act is a long overdue update to the Fair Labor Standards Act that will help ensure that the people responsible for putting food on our tables are paid fairly for their work.”
“Overtime protections are essentially a safeguard against exploiting the human body beyond its limits,” said UFW President Teresa Romero. “Allowing any industry to perpetuate fundamentally racist, Jim Crow-era exclusions for farm workers is allowing the shadow of race-based exploitation to hang over our country.”
The Fairness for Farm Workers Act is included in the Biden Administration’s immigration plan, the U.S. Citizenship Act, that was introduced by Rep. Linda Sanchez in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senator Robert Menendez in the U.S. Senate.