Posted September 20, 2013
Farm groups are having mixed reactions to a bill that will increase the minimum wage in California, according to a Fresno Bee article, available here.
The bill, AB 10, was written by Assembly Member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) and passed the California legislature last week. AB 10 will increase the state’s minimum wage from $8 an hour to $9 an hour as of July 1, 2014 and then to $10 as of Jan. 1, 2016. The bill was enrolled and presented to Governor Jerry Brown yesterday morning. Governor Brown has said he will sign the bill. The text of the bill is available here.
The United Farm Workers (UFW), which has spent the last three years lobbying lawmakers to adopt at least a $2 increase to the minimum wage, hailed the passage of the bill, according to an article by Capital Press, available here. UFW president Arturo S. Rodriguez said that the idea came out of focus groups the union held with farm workers. Rodriguez said, “We know thousands of farm workers and their families will truly benefit from the $2 raise.”
The California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) opposed the bill, along with other groups including the California Association of Winegrape Growers, California Dairies Inc., the California Grape and Tree Fruit League, the California Tomato Growers Association, the California Pear Growers Association, and Western Growers Association.
Those opposing the bill argued that it would “endanger the state’s economic recovery by forcing employers to lay people off or raise their prices.” Adin Hester, president of the Olive Growers Council of California in Visalia, said that the bill would have a minimal impact on field workers because most are paid by the bin and “negotiate a higher price than they’d receive at $10 an hour.” Shirley Batchman, California Citrus Mutual’s director of government affairs, said that in packing houses, “a raise in the minimum wage will put pressure on management to give comparable increases to higher-earning workers” and often, “the higher costs can’t be passed on to consumers.”
Supporters of the increase cite a University of California-Berkeley study of the impacts of San Francisco’s $10.50 an hour minimum wage, which found “the city’s wage had no measurable effect on employment growth but raised the purchasing power of low-wage workers.”