SB 5172 Stalls Pt 2

SB 5172 Stalls Pt 2

Bob Larson
Bob Larson
With today’s Fruit Grower Report, I’m Bob Larson. A bill hijacked by Senate Democrats, that began as a measure to help ag employers avoid paying retroactive overtime pay, has gone virtually unchanged in the House.

The Washington Policy Center’s Ag Initiative Director, Pam Lewison says Senate Bill 5172 has basically stalled in the House when amendments were expected …

LEWISON … “Farmers are protected from retroactive pay in a private lawsuit, so a lawsuit from a former employee. However, if state agencies like L&I chooses to file some sort of back pay suit against an employer, they’re not protected. They’re also not protected if a third-party files a lawsuit.”

Lewison says it still leaves farmers exposed …

LEWISON … “So, if a, like, a farmworker union were to file a lawsuit on behalf of someone else, farmers are not protected in that instance either. So, there’s some legal loopholes in that piece of legislation that need to be fixed.”

Overtime, Lewison says is probably a given, but …

LEWISON … “If we’re going to phase in overtime, and I think that we can all agree that’s something that is just a reality, we need to really have some acknowledgement that in Washington state our bread and butter are time-sensitive crops, things that once they are ready to be picked, they need to be picked immediately.”

Come back tomorrow for more on the legislative timeline and why overtime and agriculture don’t always go hand in hand.

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