July 27, 2001

Hertzberg Bill to Protect Farm Workers Passes Senate

Sacramento — The state Senate has approved legislation by Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) that would help curb abuse of farm workers by imposing increased fines on employers who fail to pay their workers.

"Every day, farm workers toil 12-hour days at minimum wage -- yet they often don't even see a paycheck at the end of the week," Hertzberg said. "This bill helps fix a system that's broken, and gives workers protections they deserve."

Numbered to commemorate the date of Cesar Chavez' death (April 23, 1993), Assembly Bill 423 would increase penalties for growers or labor contractors or their agents who knowingly and willfully fail to pay wages.

The bill imposes the following mandatory fines:

The bill would also discourage growers from hiring unlicensed contractors by requiring them to keep copies of the licenses of contractors they hire. In addition, using existing license fee revenues, the bill establishes a license verification unit and a farm labor contractor enforcement unit within the Department of Industrial Relations.

The bill is sponsored by the United Farm Workers of America.

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