mar, 05 oct | ZOOM and In Person at West Steps of Capital

SB-21-087 Rulemaking Press Conference

Join the Agricultural Workers' Rights Coalition for a Press Conference to update and rely the importance of the RULEMAKING PROCESS for SB-21-087.
Registration is Closed
SB-21-087 Rulemaking Press Conference

Time & Location

05 oct 11:00 – 13:00
ZOOM and In Person at West Steps of Capital

About the Event

Join the Agricultural Workers' Rights Coalition  for a Press Conference to update and rely the importance of the RULEMAKING PROCESS for SB-21-087.

Date, Time & Location Details

Tuesday, Oct. 5th 11 am

RSVP For ZOOM LINK 

or

Attend in Person at 

Colorado State Capital

West Steps

200 E Colfax Avenue

Denver, CO 80203

Background:

The racially motivated exclusions of agricultural workers from basic rights and protections implemented a century ago continue to exist in Colorado and are the reason why farmworkers in Colorado are excluded from the right to overtime pay after 40 hours per week and 12 hours per day which almost every other worker has. The historic passage of the Agricultural Worker Bill of Rights this session extended critical minimum wage, rest and meal breaks, collective bargaining, and other protections to farmworkers. It also required the Governor to enact "meaningful overtime protections" in consideration of various factors including the racist origins of the farmworker overtime exclusion and the importance of overtime to protect worker health and safety.

Proposed Rule:

The proposed rule does not provide agricultural workers with anything close to the same overtime protections provided to almost every other worker in Colorado. Here are the basics:

  • No farmworker will be provided with the right to overtime until November 1, 2022--meaning another grueling summer for these essential workers without the benefit of one of the most basic and important worker protections.
  • From November 2022-January 2024, all farmworkers will receive overtime after 60 hours per week, without any daily overtime protection.
  • Starting in January 2024, those farmworkers who work for “highly seasonal” producers will receive overtime protections after 48 hours per week, again without any daily overtime, but not for 22 weeks, referred to as the “peak weeks”. During the 22 peak weeks these farmworkers will only receive overtime after 56 hours per week.
  • Farmworkers working for "small employers," account for 1/3 of farmworkers in Colorado, will only receive overtime after 56 hours per week, starting in January 2024.
  • Farmworkers working for all “other employers” will receive overtime after 54 hours per week starting on January 2024 and then as of January 1, 2025, they will receive overtime after 48 hours per week.
  • Many workers, including herders and other open range workers who aren't even covered by state minimum wage laws, won't be entitled to overtime, despite the fact that they work 80-90 hours per week.

Bottom Line:

  • Despite the historic achievement of the Agricultural Worker Bill of Rights, legislation that provided basic labor standards protections to tens of thousands of workers and closed racist exclusions entrenched since the New Deal, the Polis Administration has created second tier overtime status for essential workers who are disproportionately immigrants and people of color.
  • There is no reason not to provide overtime protections to farmworkers at 40 hours per week and 12 hours per day. Many businesses in the state face fluctuating and seasonal demands but aren't carved out of overtime requirements. An analysis from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, providing equitable overtime protections would increase costs to farms by less than 1 percent, and Washington and California, two of the states with the most agricultural production in the country, have already closed the racist overtime exclusion.
  • The phase-in period is too long. There's no reason Colorado employers can't start paying these meager overtime benefits now.
  • The absence of any daily overtime protection is dangerous and inexplicable. Under this proposal, an employer can require farmworkers to work 15, 18, or 20 hours a day without any overtime pay.
  • There is no reason to carve open range workers and herders out of overtime. This exclusion will mean those workers--performing brutal work in some of the most remote parts of our state--will continue to work 80 or 90 hour weeks without any overtime and continue to be exempted from even the minimum wage.
  • There is no reason to exclude "highly seasonal" or "small employers” from 48 hour per week overtime. This exclusion makes even a 48 hour per week overtime standard a false promise for the majority of farmworkers. A worker's basic rights should not hinge on their employer's unsupportable suggestion that violating those rights is financially expedient. Seasonal employers and "small" employers in other industries don't receive these kinds of carve outs.
  • It is not nearly enough to say that Colorado is doing slightly better than much of the rest of the country in protecting essential workers and addressing structural racism that continues to reinforce a racial hierarchy of status in this state and in this country.

What's Next:

We can still make our voices heard. The Colorado still has an opportunity to end the racist overtime exclusion, just like Washington and California. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is receiving comments until November 3 and there is a public hearing on November 1.

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