Labor Activists Once Again Claim Victory After Being Defeated
Governor Inslee signed a bill that provides protection for farmers and farmworkers against three years retroactive pay and the class action lawsuits that were making these unfair demands. The nearly 40 lawsuits against farmers stemmed from a Supreme Court decision that said dairy farmworkers need to be paid overtime.
When Senator King proposed Senate Bill 5172, called the Farmworker Protection Bill, it was to protect farms and farmworkers against these lawsuits and their demands. Hundreds of farmworkers spoke up explaining how these demands would destroy their jobs.
Labor activists fought against this and through their mouthpiece, Senator Saldaña, they amended the bill to demand three years back pay for overtime for all farmworkers, plus 12% interest. If that had passed it would have destroyed most farms in the state and with that most of the 100,000 plus farmworker jobs.
Farmworkers and farmers spoke out against it, and the Senate followed by the House overwhelmingly rejected the effort by labor leaders to destroy farms and jobs.
This bill does indeed protect farmworkers from the farm and job destroying demands of labor leaders who are now claiming victory even though their effort to get three years back pay was resoundingly defeated!
The UFW did the same when they walked away from a ten year old lawsuit with absolutely nothing: Victory!
How do they call this a success? Because the bill included the provision to require overtime for all farmworkers phased in over several years, even drawing praise from President Biden. In the fight to force farmers to pay back pay for overtime, the labor activists and their legislative allies demonstrated they have no interest in what farmworkers want or what is in their best interests.
What are the farmworkers saying about this? If you watch the videos posted on protectfarmworkersnow.org or take the time to talk to farmworkers you will see that while this may be a win in the face of a bigger defeat for labor leaders, it is a big loss for farmworkers.
Workers have repeatedly explained how requiring overtime will cause them to lose pay, will make their lives more difficult and complicated, and force them to find second jobs. THEY DON’T WANT IT. If you question that, we encourage you to talk to them.
Labor activists are fighting for political agendas harmful to farms and workers. Lawmakers in this bill showed when pressed they will ignore the demands of labor leaders when it harms those they say they are trying to help. We fully expect that on the issue of overtime, they will do the same.
Will lawmakers listen to farmworkers and what helps them, or will they continue to pretend that labor leaders represent the interests of farmworkers when this bill showed so clearly that they don’t?