It has been a hot summer for field workers with two potential heat-related deaths statewide. That has prompted state lawmakers to introduce two bills that will give workers more protection on the job.
However, some farmers feel these bills unfairly target the agricultural industry.
One bill passed the State Senate on Monday, which means both bills now sit in the Assembly awaiting approval.
Field workers say these bills give them more control over their working environment.
Farmers said this is unnecessary punishment for the industry.
"Basically, what farm workers want is to be able to enforce the laws themselves," said Maria Machuca, Spokesperson for the United Farm Workers Union. "In the Central Valley, we are seeing temperatures going up 110 degrees."
According to the UFW, there have been 16 heat-related deaths in California since 2005, two of those within the last year. The union wants better laws to watch over workers.
"Farm workers should be protected just like anybody else," said Machuca.
So, they propose two laws that will allow field workers to be able to sue farmers if they repeatedly break heat regulations, and make it a criminal offense if farmers don't provide water and shade.
"Right now, there are rules in the books that say that if a person doesn't provide an animal with water they can face this criminal charges. If we are going to an animal why not to a farm worker," said Machuca.
Farmers say education would be more productive than punishment.
"To make it more stringent and put more jail time and fines, I don't think is the answer," said Greg Wegis, Kern County farmer.
The bills also make farmers, not labor contractors, liable for heat-related injuries, something farmers say is unfair.
"We would never want the business that's being paid to do their job to reflect on the business that is paying them," said Wegis.
Both bills will now go to the Assembly for final approval.