CFVGA Against Ag Workers Bill

CFVGA Against Ag Workers Bill

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett

The Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association has added its name to the list of industry groups opposed to the Agricultural Workers Rights Bill under consideration in the state Senate.

Senate bill 21-087, will significantly reduce the paychecks of Colorado ag employees according to new CVFGA president Bruce Talbot.

The bill seeks to improve health protections for workers with H2A visas, mandate meal breaks, ensure housing without interference, allow workers to organize and be protected from retaliation when reporting violations.

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Jessie Danielson, says her bill is meant to restore human rights and stop discrimination against ag workers.

Samuelson: “While we demand so much of these critical essential workers, they are expected to labor with none of the basic protections that are provided in this bill.”

The bill would also require employers to pay agriculture workers overtime for days longer than 12 hours or weeks longer than 40 hours. That’s a key element for the opposition.

Talbot says Agriculture has always been exempted from paying overtime, because, unlike any other industry, the Colorado growing season is short, and the weather cannot be controlled. Also, unlike other industries, farmers do not have the ability to pass on increased costs of labor to customers.

Farmers will have to figure out how to make up the lost labor, which likely means downsizing for some and selling for others. Talbot says under this bill, the same worker who would have made more than $4,400 per month for a 70-hour workweek, could see a 43 percent reduction in income.

Colorado’s livestock and cattlemen’s associations, the Colorado Farm Bureau, the wheat and sugar beet growers all oppose the measure.

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