California fresh fruit and vegetable producers have overcome their legislators' economic ignorance before, and they're going to have to do it again.
In late August, the California Assembly passed an agriculture overtime bill that would make it the first state in the U.S. to mandate farmworker overtime pay after eight hours worked in a day or 40 hours worked in a week, up from the previous law's 10 hours per day or 60 hours per week.
California produce companies and their associations justifiably criticized the move as anti-competitive and likely to harm farmworkers more than it helps.
We've been through this before, as in the spring, California passed a plan to raise the state's minimum wage from $10 to $15 by 2022.
At the time, Gov. Jerry Brown said "Economically, minimum wages may not make sense, but morally, socially and politically, they make sense because it binds the community together to make sure parents can take care of their kids."
He's right - such a wage does not make sense.
Businesses will cut hours and move to more automation, which will ultimately hurt workers.
As with this overtime law, businesses will likely cut workers' hours, increase automation and even move growing operations elsewhere.
There's some hope that Gov. Brown will veto the overtime law, but given that he's admitted to signing bills that feel good but make no economic sense, we're not optimistic.
The fresh produce industry has lobbied state lawmakers to little effect, but it should still document how the bill affects its business so the next time lawmakers debate such a law, there are real-world consequences for them to consider.
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