Bill to make farmworkers eligible for minimum wage killed

Virginia News

FILE – In this April 15, 2020, file photo, a farmworker, considered an essential worker under the current COVID-19 guidelines, covers his face as he works at a flower farm in Santa Paula, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday, July 24, 2020, pledged to do more to protect Latinos and essential workers from economic and health harms caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but he said he will do so by working with the Legislature, not acting on his own. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A Virginia Senate committee on Monday killed a measure that would have made Virginia’s minimum wage requirements apply to farmworkers.

The Committee on Commerce and Labor voted against eliminating current exemptions in the law for farmworkers, ending the bill’s chances of passing this year.

The bill previously cleared the House of Delegates on a party-line 55-45 vote but met resistance along the way from agribusiness.

Lobbyists argued that the bill was unnecessary because they said farmworkers are already well-compensated.

The farmworker bill’s chief sponsor, Del. Jeion Ward, argued that the farmworker exemption is rooted in Jim Crow-era discrimination laws.

She said one out of every five farmworkers in Virginia makes less than minimum wage.

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