A coalition of agricultural organizations have filed a lawsuit to block an emergency ordinance on “hero pay” the City of Coachella passed in February. The statute mandates agricultural employers pay an additional $4 per hour for at least the next four months.
“It is beyond astonishing that the leaders … decided to impose another burden on agriculture,” said Ian LeMay, president of the California Fresh Fruit Association in a statement.
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Western Growers CEO Dave Puglia said the measure will push grocery and restaurant buyers to source beyond the Coachella Valley, rather than simply passing the costs on to consumers. The coalition argues the ordinance will ultimately lead to fewer jobs for farmworkers.
“Add in these expenses to already-existing regulatory compliance costs, agricultural overtime laws and the highest minimum wage in the country, our local family farms are buckling under the weight,” said Janell Percy, who directs the group Growing Coachella Valley.