ICYMI: Colorado Senate Democrats: SIGNED! Bill to Extend Long Sought After Labor Rights to Agricultural Workers Becomes Law
New law would expand labor protections, allow workers to form unions, and guarantee minimum wages for agricultural workers across the state
DENVER, CO – On June 25th, the governor signed a groundbreaking agricultural workers’ rights bill into law 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.
“Colorado’s agricultural workers have been exploited for far too long in this state, and it’s well beyond time for us to provide them with the dignity and respect they deserve,”said Senator Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat Ridge). “Ensuring that these workers are able to earn a living wage, get overtime pay, have adequate access to breaks and water, and are protected against retaliation is simply just the right thing to do.”
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.
“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. This law will ensure basic protections for ag workers that already apply to every other worker across our state.”
In addition, the legislation 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.
About the Colorado Senate Democrats
The 20-member Senate Democratic Caucus for the 2021 legislative session includes Senators Leroy Garcia, Kerry Donovan, Pete Lee, Joann Ginal, Tammy Story, Sonya Jaquez Lewis, Stephen Fenberg, Rachel Zenzinger, Jessie Danielson, Dominick Moreno, Brittany Pettersen, Faith Winter, Jeff Bridges, Chris Kolker, Janet Buckner, Rhonda Fields, Chris Hansen, Robert Rodriguez, James Coleman, Julie Gonzales.