Schoesler: Overtime Discussion Not Good for Producers, Employees

As Washington lawmakers continue to debate the idea of requiring overtime pay for ag workers, one farm legislator says the conversation is not good for either the producer or the employee. Senator Mark Schoesler, a wheat farmer from Ritzville, said the idea of initiating overtime pay is counterproductive for both sides of the equation.

“Because, if your employee costs grow too large, you look at automation, expansion of the size of equipment you use, it isn’t good for jobs.  Or if you can, you look at finding more workers and paying fewer overtime hours.  Either way, it’s not good for producers or employee.”

Schoesler added those supporting overtime pay for farm workers don’t appreciate the additional benefits those workers currently receive.

“Our farmers and ranchers, many, many times, provide housing, whether it’s a cattle ranch, an asparagus grower, orchard or wheat farmer.  And in the Ag overtime, they’re given no credit for that.  Many times, that same employee has a vehicle to use back and forth to work.”

Schoesler added the state needs to take into account that Ag producers have a unique set of benefits, which needs to be included in the overtime conversation.

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