Legislation that would grant farm workers the right to collect overtime pay was rejected in the state Assembly late Thursday as 19 Democrats, particularly those running this year in agricultural districts, refused to vote for it.
The measure, Assembly Bill 1313, received just 33 votes, eight short of the 41 required, despite hours of effort by the United Farm Workers union to persuade more Democrats to support it.
Two Democrats - Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills and Richard Pan of Sacramento - voted against the bill, along with 28 Republicans, while 17 other Democrats refused to vote at all. Another attempt will be made in the Assembly today, the final day of the 2012 legislative session.
Farm workers were exempted when Congress voted in the 1930s to establish initial federal overtime rules, and the state did the same a few years later, prompting the bill's author, Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, to declare, "75 years of waiting is long enough."
Republicans, however, said that farmers would react to an overtime requirement by restricting the work hours of their seasonal employees or by increasing reliance on machinery, either of which would reduce workers' incomes. "AB 1313 is self-defeating," Assemblyman Curt Hagman, D-Chino Hills, said.