DENVER, CO – Governor Polis today signed Representatives Karen McCormick and Yadira Caraveo’s bill to advance the basic rights of Colorado’s agricultural workers and modernize the agriculture industry.
“Farmworkers contribute immensely to our agricultural economy and help put Colorado food on tables across the country and the world. It’s due time we support them,” said Rep. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton. “The fight to win better working conditions for farmworkers in America has always been an uphill struggle, but in the words of bill supporter and labor icon Dolores Huerta, si se puede!, yes we can.”
“Every worker in Colorado, regardless of the industry they labor in, should expect humane treatment and a fair wage,” said Rep. Karen McCormick, D-Longmont. “Improving conditions for farmworkers will modernize our state’s agriculture industry and ensure a sustainable future for it in Colorado. As an employer, I know first hand that treating employees fairly and paying well are some of the best investments a business owner can make. Colorado’s agriculture industry has never been afraid to lead the way, and with these new measures Colorado will be a leader in the agricultural labor market.”
SB21-087 takes several steps to bring Colorado’s agricultural workers under the same labor standards that other workers in the state have and takes other steps to keep Colorado’s agriculture workforce competitive. Among other provisions, the law would: allow workers to form and join unions to bargain for better pay and increased benefits, remove the exemption that allows certain workers to make less than the minimum wage, provide protections from retaliation and set more humane standards around break times and working in extreme weather conditions.
Importantly the new law limits the continuous operation of physically demanding tools that lead to chronic health problems–tools that have been banned in other states for decades. The law also ensures workers are provided transportation to critical services and access to healthcare providers while creating a pathway for aggrieved workers to seek remedies available to workers in other industries.