|WUD asks Gov. Brown to veto two ag heat bills|
Western United Dairymen is calling upon its members to contact Gov. Brown and urge his veto of two bills approved by the state Legislature that deal with heat standards for farmworkers. AB 2346 by Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Los Angeles) creates new standards for protecting farmworkers from heat-related illness. Under AB 2676 by Assemblyman Charles Calderson (D-Whittier) farmers could be jailed for failing to provide field workers with adequate shade or water.
The measure requires that anyone directing or supervising a farmworker must ensure “continuous, ready access” to shade and to enough “suitably cool” water for each employee to drink one quart per hour throughout a work shift. Violators would be guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a six-month jail term and a fine of up to $10,000. If the victim suffers injury, the potential penalty would escalate to a one-year jail term and a $25,000 fine.
“Both of these bills are unnecessary burdens on farmers who are already providing all necessary heat relief measures for their workers,” said WUD President Tom Barcellos. “These are just more unnecessary, costly burdens on farmers and we hope that Governor Brown acts wisely and vetoes these measures.” WUD members can fax their messages to Gov. Brown at (916) 558-3160 urging a veto of both measures. The Governor has until September 30 to take action on the legislation.
WUD has joined with a coalition of state ag groups in writing a letter to Brown urging a veto of both bills. In opposing AB 2676, the coalition notes that it is inconsistent with Cal/OSHA heat regulations. “The bill would create criminal liability even where the regulation is being followed,” said the coalition. “It would create new criminal penalties only for the agricultural industry, unjustifiably singling us out among the myriad industries with outdoor employees. All outdoor workers deserve the same protections.”
AB 2346 should be opposed, said the coalition, because it “rests on the false premise that your Administration has failed to adequately enforce the state’s heat illness prevention standard and that the state’s farmers and other farm employers have failed to embrace compliance with that standard.” Sept 7, 2012 WUD Friday Update