On Sunday, Gov. Jerry Brown rejected The Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act - authored by Assemblyman Charles Calderon (D-Whittier) - that would make it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by jail time and fines, to not provide appropriate water or shade to workers laboring under high heat conditions. The governor also vetoed AB 2346 - The Farm Worker Safety Act - by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles). It would have allowed workers to enforce the state’s heat regulations by suing employers who repeatedly violate the law. The United Farm Workers strongly supported both bills.
United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez issued the following statement:
“The UFW is appalled at the governor’s decision to deny farm workers the basic legal tools to protect themselves from employers who intentionally put their lives at risk by refusing to provide them with adequate water and shade despite the dangerously high temperatures. By vetoing AB 2676, the governor continues the policy of giving animals more protections than those currently offered to farm workers.
Since California issued regulations in 2005 to keep farm workers from dying of extreme heat, preventable farm worker deaths have continued. State regulators are investigating two possible heat-related farm worker deaths that occurred this summer. There are over 81,500 farms and more than 450,000 farm workers working under a corrupt farm labor contractor system. It’s time the government admits that without adequate enforcement, regulations are ineffective. We are weighing our legal and other options to determine how we better provide the protections farm workers deserve as human beings.”
“While I believe enforcement of our heat standards can be improved, I am not convinced that creating a new crimes — and crime that applies only to one group of employers — is the answer,” wrote CA Gov. Jerry Brown in his legislative update issued Sunday. “Instead, we should continue to enforce our stringent standards for the benefit of all workers in all industries.”