California Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975

California State Legislature passed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975.  It was passed so that all agricultural workers were treated fairly and treated the same.

It allows the workers to have unions to protect their rights as farm workings in areas like wages, hours and working conditions. The Act allows workers to select a union or a representative to help bargain with their employer.  It also allows the ALRB the ability to investigate and to take employers to court if they engage in unfair labor practices.

Before farm workers were able to organize unions, it allowed for what some call a type of slavery. These are Mexicans rather than black Americans and they face some of the most difficult conditions in the country.

Several states are following in California’s footsteps and are passing labor relation laws.  California took it a step further in 2016 and entitled farm workers the same overtime pay as others.



Farm workers pick eggplant in the early morning fog on a farm in Rancho Santa Fe, California United States August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Blake - RTX2NQI4

California has some of the most productive farms in all of the U.S. and has addressed the many disputes between farmers and their employers and their rights.

Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1066 in 2016 that will start to take place in 2019 by providing for overtime for more than eight hours per day, or 40 hours per week. Right now they have a 10 hour day before overtime.

In the agriculture industry the death rate is very high – almost 7 times the national average for workers. Most are undocumented so they don’t want to create any problems that may get them investigated and deported.  So most will not speak up to their employers.

So now, farm workers in California are getting overtime pay after 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week. The number of hours need to be documented on both sides so that when the farm workers get their paycheck the overtime if any matches. Also, the overtime should be paid with the regular payroll period. Otherwise they can dispute it and have the union on their side to help.  The complaints need to be sent to the California Labor Commissioner’s Office.

There are a lot of applications that are on for an iPhone – smartphone – cell phone that can help keep track and/ or record hours. It provides an electronic record of the hours worked.  It is something farm workers can use should they have to go to court.  The current rate is $8.00 per hour.  It should be easy to calculate the number of hours and to ensure farm workers are being paid the required amount.

Call the Wage and Hour Division if you have any questions.  They have a toll free number.