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Updated: Oct 28, 2021

Media Advisory: October 4, 2021 Denver, CO

The racism in the Polis administration continues. Press Coverage:

Press conference coverage From Conference:

Fox 31

With the proposed overtime rule farm workers will not derive any relief from the revolutionary SB 21-087 Agricultural Workers Bill of Rights. The proposed rule overturns the intent of the law and leaves farm workers as second class citizens. This is race based discrimination and we are not surprised.

In response to the proposed overtime rule for farmworkers just released from the Colorado Department of Labor (CDLE), Latinx community leaders and workers call on the Polis Administration to provide farmworkers with equitable overtime rights. This is racism in action.

These rules as they are written are not necessary to protect farm owners. They are blatant racism.

We call on Coloradans to stop the racism in the agricultural system in Colorado.

They also call on Coloradans to comment on the rule and support the amazing work of the Agricultural Workers Rights Bill.

WHEN: Tuesday October 5, 2021 at 11am

WHERE: West Steps, Colorado State Capitol Building, Denver ZOOM:

WHO: • Polly Baca, former State of Colorado Senator and Representative

• Mike Cortez, Executive Director, Colorado Latino Leadership,

• Advocacy & Research Organization (CLLARO)

• Stacy Suniga, President, Latino Coalition of Weld County

• Farm worker voices

• Promotoras from the Project Protect Food Systems Workers Promotora Network will be available

Bottom Line:

  • Despite the historic achievement of the Agricultural Worker Bill of Rights, legislation that provided basic labor standards protections to tens of thousands of workers and closed racist exclusions entrenched since the New Deal, the Polis Administration has created second tier overtime status for essential workers who are disproportionately immigrants and people of color.

  • There is no reason not to provide overtime protections to farmworkers at 40 hours per week and 12 hours per day. Many businesses in the state face fluctuating and seasonal demands but aren't carved out of overtime requirements. An analysis from the Colorado Center on Law and Policy, providing equitable overtime protections would increase costs to farms by less than 1 percent, and Washington and California, two of the states with the most agricultural production in the country, have already closed the racist overtime exclusion.

  • The phase-in period is too long. There's no reason Colorado employers can't start paying these meager overtime benefits now.

  • The absence of any daily overtime protection is dangerous and inexplicable. Under this proposal, an employer can require farmworkers to work 15, 18, or 20 hours a day without any overtime pay.

  • There is no reason to carve open range workers and herders out of overtime. This exclusion will mean those workers--performing brutal work in some of the most remote parts of our state--will continue to work 80 or 90 hour weeks without any overtime and continue to be exempted from even the minimum wage.

  • There is no reason to exclude "highly seasonal" or "small employers” from 48 hour per week overtime. This exclusion makes even a 48 hour per week overtime standard a false promise for the majority of farmworkers. A worker's basic rights should not hinge on their employer's unsupportable suggestion that violating those rights is financially expedient. Seasonal employers and "small" employers in other industries don't receive these kinds of carve outs.

  • It is not nearly enough to say that Colorado is doing slightly better than much of the rest of the country in protecting essential workers and addressing structural racism that continues to reinforce a racial hierarchy of status in this state and in this country.

What's Next:

We can still make our voices heard. The Governor still has an opportunity to end the racist overtime exclusion, just like Washington and California. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is receiving comments until November 3 and there is a public hearing on November 1.

Members of the public (and that is anyone in Colorado) can make their comments and voice heard in the rulemaking process. All comments can be submitted through the links on the CDLE website that also include the Public Hearing registration form. Both the Agricultural Labor page and the COMPS Order page have information and links in English and Spanish that also include the Public Hearing registration form. You only need to provide your name before selecting the public comment checkbox, and then you can skip registering for the hearing.

For more information please contact

Michelle Auerhach

Project Protect Food Systems Workers


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