Fresno, California – Depending on who you talk to, the increase in the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 is either a good thing or terrible. It’s a polarizing issue to say the least.
On April 4, Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 3 into law raising the minimum wage in California to $15 by 2022 for employers with 26 employees or less and by 2023 for all. Chambers of Commerce banded together against it, asking members to call their politicians to oppose this and on the day of the bill signing, call the Governor personally to oppose this hike. But now it’s law, the ripples, particularly in Ag circles are huge from those producing our food supply with farm labor.
Tom Nassif is the Chief Executive with the Western Growers Association with members all over the west. He essentially states that this minimum wage hike continues the regulatory harm being down to the state’s growers who employ thousands of farm laborers, “Raising the minimum wage by 87 percent in just eight years will cause greater disproportionate harm to employers, and many employees who will lose jobs,” says Nassif. ”
Labor in general will see some impacts according to Datatech founder and President Isaac Davidian. He says the the biggest impact will be with inexperienced workers, “Who is going to want to hire someone inexperienced at $15 an hour? This goes for any industry, Ag and otherwise. So if that’s the case, how do they learn? In Ag, it used to be where children learned alongside their parents. Now regulations keep this from happening.”
Davidian says that many piece-rate workers in Ag are already earning $15 to $20 an hour, but again, these are experienced workers. He asks, “Will Ag employers want to hire inexperienced workers at this rate? How do they get the experience?” This could potentially leave many who want to work and have no experience, left in the lurch.
Nassif attributes this minimum wage issue to ceding the state’s lead in food production to other states and countries and bluntly states, “Taken together with the inexorable advancement of the labor and environmental agendas, our state’s political leaders are sending a clear message about the type of California they want to see in the decades to come. Unfortunately – and inexplicably – they aim to create a California that no longer leads the nation or world in the production of fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, as well as a host of other agricultural products…driving many family farms out of business.”
Now on the heals of SB 3 is AB 2757 that seeks to increase overtime pay for farm laborers. Click here for our report on this proposed legislation. The proposal will decrease the current OT wage ceiling of time and half pay starting at 10 hours to 8 hours in one day and double-time pay starting at 12 hours in one day by January of 2020. This legislative proposal is currently going through labor committees in Sacramento and we’ll follow it’s progress.
Stay with Datatech for the latest on wage issues in Agriculture. Our payroll and accounting software simplifies many payroll issues farm labor contractors face, saving time and helping them make the right management decisions.