FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PR98:139
Wednesday, April 22, 1998

CONTACT:
Sean Walsh
Lisa Kalustian
(916) 445-4571


-- GOVERNOR'S OFFICE PRESS RELEASE --

WILSON ADMONISHES ORGANIZED LABOR AND CRLA FOR DEATH
OF BILL REQUIRING CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR FARM LABOR CONTRACTORS

SACRAMENTO --Governor Pete Wilson today expressed exasperation with the California Labor Federation, AFL/CIO, the United Farm Workers and California Rural Legal Assistance for their opposition to AB 2399 (Poochigian), a bill to require continuing education for California farm labor contractors. The bill, sponsored by the Wilson Administration, died in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee today.

"It is beyond reasonable explanation why those who claim to be champions of the rights of workers would kill a bill designed to improve working conditions for California farm workers," Wilson said.

"This bill had broad bipartisan support. It is disingenuous of the California Labor Federation, AFL/CIO, the United Farm Workers and California Rural Legal Assistance, who opposed this bill, to think conditions in the fields will improve without an informed employer community."

AB 2399 would have made changes to the current system for licensing for farm labor contractors by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, primarily by providing an eight-hour continuing education course for farm labor contractors approved by the California Labor Commissioner. The course would have covered the duties and responsibilities legally mandated of a farm labor contractor and updates of all pertinent laws and regulations, such as payment of wages, workers' compensation requirements, pesticide regulations and occupational safety and health issues. The bill also would have required that farm labor contractor licenses be valid for two years rather than the current one-year period, thereby saving unnecessary administrative costs in application processing.

AB 2399 was introduced by Assemblymembers Charles Poochigian (R-Fresno); Larry Bowler (R-Elk Grove); Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced); Peter Frusetta (R-Tres Pino); Brett Granlund (R- Yucaipa); Mike Machado (D-Linden); Kevin Murray (D-Los Angles); Robert Prenter (R-Hanford); and Tom Woods(R-Shasta). AB 2399 was co-authored by Senators Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz).

The measure would have affected the 1300 licensed farm labor contractors in California who must comply with rules that are included in the California Code of Regulations, Education Code, Government Code, Labor Code, Vehicle Code, Food and Agriculture Code, Health and Safety Code, United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations.

By providing continuing education to farm labor contractors, farm laborers would be assured that their employers are knowledgeable of the applicable laws and regulations that are designed to protect the workers' conditions, safety and health.

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