Governor Gray Davis - Digital Library
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Opportunity for All Californians: Farm Workers

Governor Davis has put into place comprehensive reforms to protect and raise the living standards for many of California's most vulnerable and exploited workers, especially farmworkers.

Even before he officially took office, Governor Davis assisted the thousands of farmworkers affected by the December 1998 Citrus Freeze.

The Governor has enacted the most significant package of agricultural labor laws in more than 20 years.

In 2002, Governor Davis signed legislation that requires the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to appoint a neutral mediator in cases of an unresolved labor dispute between farmworkers and management. This law strengthens the landmark Agricultural Labor Relations Act and gives farmworkers who have been struggling without a contract for years a chance for hope.

He also signed into law the first paid state holiday in the nation in honor of our nation's greatest farmworker labor leader, Cesar Chavez.

Governor Davis created the first California Labor & Workforce Development Agency which oversees and coordinates state programs that provide labor law and occupational safety enforcement in the fields, offers workforce development and administers union representation elections for farmworkers.

The Davis Administration's efforts on behalf of farmworkers include:

Enhanced Farmworker Safety

  • Increased the number of unannounced agricultural inspections through the Agricultural Safety and Health Inspection Project.
  • Strengthened safety regulations of farm labor vehicles, including: prohibiting the unsafe transportation of workers in the flatbed of a truck, requiring safety belts, and authorizing the CHP to crack down on unsafe farm labor vehicles.
  • Launched an innovative pilot program in April 2002 to provide safe transport through vanpools and transit bus service for agricultural workers in Kings and Tulare counties.

Implementation of Agricultural Labor Relations Act

  • Strengthened the Agricultural Labor Relations Act to protect farmworkers.
  • Established the Agricultural Employee Relief Fund.
  • During 2002-03, the Davis Administration settled an unprecedented number of claims resulting from labor law violations, amounting to nearly $500,000 in backpay and "make whole" awards.
  • In an effort to create greater consensus among growers, farmworkers' unions, and other stakeholders' groups, Governor Davis created the Ad Hoc Advisory Committee in 2001, which advises the Agricultural Labor Relations Board on regulatory, outreach and other administrative matters.

Farm Labor Contracting Reform

  • Cracked down on farm labor contractors without licenses and strengthens penalties for wage violations.
  • Increased the bonding level for farm labor contractors to ensure their worker payrolls are covered.
  • Established an Office of the Labor Commissioner in Fresno to ensure strong compliance with labor contractor regulations.


  • Governor Davis signed the Joe Serna Farm Worker Family Wellness Act to integrate housing, health and other family services for agricultural workers.
  • Provided funding for the development of farmworker housing.


  • Governor Davis appointed UFW member Martha Guzman to the California Water Commission.