The bills to extend basic labor protections to subcontracted warehouse workers and to strengthen heat regulations for farm workers have already been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown. The bill to give farm workers overtime after eight hours, like other workers, instead of after 10 hours or 60 hours a week, is likely to pass the Assembly Friday and go to Brown's desk. The question is whether Brown will sign these bills.
In his current stint as governor of California, Jerry Brown has compiled a mixed record, signing a law penalizing misclassification of workers, but forced a compromise on measures to protect farm workers trying to organize, after having vetoed the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act. He vetoed a bill that would have allowed child care workers to unionize, but signed bills helping pregnant women keep their health care during pregnancy. Like I say, a mixed record.
Strengthening overtime and heat protections for farm workers and making sure that warehouse subcontractors actually have the money to pay the workers they hire are not exactly the first steps to revolution, but of course the industries that run on low wages, long hours, and inadequate safety measures don't want to see the law chipping into their ability to exploit. They're pushing back, insisting these measures would have all sorts of dire consequences. Of course, that's also what they say about raising the minimum wage, about requiring paid sick leave, any damn thing that keeps workers safe on the job or puts teeth behind the notion that if you work full time, you shouldn't be living in poverty. Brown has a chance to do the right thing. The rock-fucking-bottom, basic right thing for human safety and dignity. This Labor Day weekend, he should take that chance.