Sacramento, California - Today, the Assembly Committee on Labor and Employment discussed and affirmed its commitment to Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) bipartisan legislative solution to severe labor shortages devastating our state and national economy.  AB 1885 would offer workforce relief to our agriculture and service business sectors by way of a resident worker permit program.

“California is responsible for over one-third of the nation’s food, and over 60% of our state’s farmworkers are unauthorized. This labor shortage has become a matter of economic urgency. AB 1885 presents California with another unique opportunity to lead and champion a cause that is reflective of our values, and that intersects the wellbeing of our families with the overall fate of our economy,” insisted Assemblymember Garcia. “I appreciate the Chair and Committee Members for their commitment to continue to work with us on this bill.”

Garcia continued, “I am very grateful to the partnership of Western Growers and the California Farm Bureau Federation. Their support is paramount to moving this initiative forward. We can make a big difference in the lives of thousands of immigrants. AB 1885 is needed to ensure the workforce stability necessary to meet the needs of our vital agriculture and service industries.”

Western Growers, the California Farm Bureau Federation and La Cooperativa Campesina de California were among those that stood behind Assemblymember Garcia’s legislative proposal in today’s hearing.

The California Farm Bureau Federation thanked Garcia for introducing this measure and expressed its interest in working together toward its enactment. “The California Farm Bureau Federation is pleased to support AB 1885, your legislation to direct the government of the State of California to coordinate activities in support of a federal program providing agricultural workers to alleviate California’s agricultural worker shortage and to direct the Governor to urge Congressional action to address this problem,” provided Bryan Little, Director of the bureau’s Employment Policy in a letter of support.

This statewide organization comprised of farmers and ranchers has been a longtime supporter of solutions to allow our existing workforce to reside and work legally in California and to replace that workforce when they begin to retire.

La Cooperativa Campesina de California said, “Despite an increase in wages and an emergence of benefits for farmworkers, American citizens are not lining up for these jobs. Considering decades of a lack of decisive action from the federal government, a severe shortage of agricultural workers is a real possibility. A shortage of farmworkers is not just a labor issue, but an economic issue and a national security issue.” La Cooperativa is a renowned association of agencies implementing and administering farmworker service programs.

AB 1885, California Resident Worker Program and Economic Stabilization Act would organize a working group to establish a model for the implementation of a resident worker permit program. The state would work with the federal government to allow currently unauthorized workers in California’s agriculture and service industries to remain working in California until Congress enacts comprehensive immigration reform policy.

Moving forward, the Committee will continue to work with Assemblymember Garcia along with the bill’s bipartisan ensemble of coauthors, industry stakeholders and advocates to advance the best possible policy to address this imperative economic issue.