I congratulate the Washington State legislature and Governor Jay Inslee for signing into law SB 5172, Washington’s Overtime Bill for Agricultural Workers, which will help more than 100,000 farmworkers secure the overtime pay they deserve. Agricultural workers in Washington and across the country have helped carry our nation through this pandemic — working long hours, often at great personal risk, to meet the needs of their communities and keep America healthy and well-nourished. These overtime protections will ensure that agricultural workers in Washington are paid for all of the vital work they do.
For too long — and owing in large part to unconscionable race-based exclusions put in place generations ago — farmworkers have been denied some of the most fundamental rights that workers in almost every other sector have long enjoyed, including the right to a forty-hour work week and overtime pay. I was proud to stand with farmworkers during the Obama-Biden Administration, when California passed the nation’s first farmworker overtime bill, and I am proud to stand with the farmworkers of Washington State today. It is long past time that we put all of America’s farmworkers on an equal footing with the rest of our national workforce when it comes to their basic rights — and I urge Congress to pass HR 1177, the U.S. Citizenship Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, so that we can extend those rights to farmworkers in all fifty states.