The ignorance on display in Olympia is outrageous.
To be clear–and to state the obvious–farm workers must be paid for every hour they work. It’s the law.
But apparently even some in our state’s highest positions of authority still don’t understand that.
In fact, Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self appears to believe that farmers have been paying workers nothing for the hours they work past 40 hours a week.
To quote her from a recent Capital Press article:
“‘For some reason, we feel like it’s OK for those who pick our fruits and vegetables, do backbreaking work in the often worst conditions, to continue to work 50, 60 hours and to not get paid for it,’ said.”
“‘We are asking people who are just trying to feed their family and survive to work 50, 60 hours for free. To work those additional hours for free for your benefit. We accept that because we don’t want to pay 3 cents more for apples or 4 cents more for cabbage,’ she said.”
These kinds of comments demonstrate an unbelievable disconnect with the realities of farming and farm worker pay.
It is deeply troubling to think that someone casting important votes on issues like this would have so little understanding of the community they’re affecting.
Not only are farm workers paid for their work, but here in WA they’re paid as much or more than anywhere else in the nation.
And to suggest that farmers have any ability whatsoever to pass onto consumers the additional costs forced by lawmakers and bureaucrats completely fails to comprehend how the global marketplace in which they compete actually works.