CO Senate Democrats Champion Legislation to Extend Long Sought After Labor Rights to Agricultural Workers
SB21-087 would expand labor protections, allow workers to form unions, and guarantee minimum wages for agricultural workers across the state
DENVER, CO – Today, the State Senate gave final approval to a groundbreaking agricultural workers’ rights bill that will modernize the industry, promote equity, and establish fair treatment standards by extending basic labor rights to agricultural workers.
SB21-087, sponsored by Senators Jessie Danielson & Dominick Moreno, establishes an ‘Agricultural Workers’ Bill of Rights’ that guarantees break times, meal times, safe and comfortable working conditions, safe housing, overtime pay, clean water, and health protections for agricultural workers. Additionally, the bill prohibits the use of the short-handled hoe – a practice that has already been outlawed in Texas, California, Arizona, and New Mexico.
“For generations, our agricultural workers have been exploited for profit in Colorado, and it’s well beyond time for us to stand up for them,” said Senator Jessie Danielson (D-Wheatridge). “Under this critical legislation, Coloradans who work on farms, ranches and other agricultural establishments across our state will earn a living wage, get overtime pay, have access to water and rest breaks, and be protected from retaliation. Our ag workers should have the same protections as other workers. This bill ensures that.”
“Colorado lags far behind other states when it comes to affording basic human rights to agricultural workers,” said Senator Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City). “These workers are often exploited for cheap labor and they can’t even discuss workplace conditions with their colleagues without fear of retaliation. Our bill will ensure basic protections for ag workers that already apply to every other worker across our state.”
Specifically, the bill tasks the Division of Labor Standards and Statistics in the Department of Labor and Employment to promulgate rules to establish the overtime pay of agricultural employees, and removes the exemption of agricultural labor from state and local minimum wage laws. To continue to look ahead, the bill also creates the Agricultural Work Advisory Committee to study and analyze agricultural wages and working conditions. Lastly, the bill creates rights, remedies, and enforcement actions for aggrieved agricultural employees, whistleblowers, and key service providers so they can seek justice and promote transparency without fear of retaliation.
SB21-087 will now head to the House for consideration. To read the bill and find updates regarding its status, visit leg.colorado.gov/bills/sb21-087.