farmworkers now are entitled to the same right laborers across the
nation have had for decades: a minimum wage (HCN, 12/18/00:
Troubled harvest). Until recently, Idaho farmworkers were paid by
the amount of apples they picked or the number of trees they
pruned. But now, if that rate isn't equal to at least $5.15 an
hour, employers must pay the difference. The legislation, which
passed both houses of Congress in March, was written with input
from farmworker advocates, farmers and the governor's
"I think it's pretty remarkable when you
can get all sides to agree," says Sen. Bart Davis, R-Idaho Falls,
who carried the bill in the Senate. In order to reach consensus,
the legislators excluded workers under the age of 16 who only work
part-time, local farmworkers who worked less than 13 weeks the
previous year, and sheepherders.
farmworker advocates, who have fought for a minimum wage for four
years, say this is a huge step for Idaho.
gives us a sense of dignity that we are worth some protection under
the law," says Leo Morales, a farmworker for 11 years who lobbied
on behalf of Idahoans for Minimum Wage. "We still have no
insurance, no overtime, no child-protection laws, but this
legislation starts to recognize us as human
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne has promised to
sign the bill.