Schwarzenegger vetoes more overtime pay for farmworkers

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday vetoed a bill that would have given more overtime pay to farmworkers, saying it would overturn long-standing rules and create "additional burdens on California businesses."

The legislation was a top priority for Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, who in a statement accused the governor of missing a chance to "wipe a 70-year-old shame off the books of California."

"The governor had a chance to make history," he said. "Instead, he has decided to use his pen in the spirit of the politicians of the segregationist South who pushed to discriminate against the least protected members of our society."

California is the only state in the nation that provides overtime for farmworkers after 10 hours a day or 60 hours a week. Senate Bill 1121 would have granted overtime after eight hours.

Grower organizations lobbied hard against the bill, fearing they'd lose a competitive advantage to growers in other states that don't require overtime. Farmers also said the bill could mean less pay for farmworkers, because growers might cut back their hours instead of paying more.

"We were as anxious as anybody to get his decision and we are very pleased that he decided to veto this bill," said Ryan Jacobsen, the executive director of the Fresno County Farm Bureau.

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