Wednesday, May 25, 2022

who killed overtime pay - photoessay


Photoessay by David Bacon
Series written by Marcus Baram
Published by Capital & Main, May 10-13, 2022

Who Killed Overtime Pay?
Overworked and Underpaid

A protest in San Francisco against then-Gov. Pete Wilson's successful efforts to diminish the amount of overtime that employers paid out.

A barista at a cafe in Berkeley whips up a coffee drink in 2020. In the months after COVID-19 slammed California, most people stayed home and sheltered in place, but due to a pandemic-induced shortage of workers, Carlos often worked overtime in what authorities deemed an essential job.

Most farmworkers won overtime rights in California in 2019, but those on H-2A visas, which allow migrants to come to the U.S. to work, have fewer practical labor rights because they can be fired and deported in retaliation for highlighting illegal conditions. Here, H-2A workers harvest melons for the Rancho Nuevo Harvesting Company in the San Joaquin Valley in 2021.

Overtime hours are common in many fast food establishments, especially after the pandemic triggered labor shortages of workers willing to accept such low-wage jobs. Here, a worker in Arcadia, California, in 2006, makes sure customers get their sides of fries.

Due to staff shortages, classroom aides - like this one sharing a math lesson at a Janesville, California, school in 2006 - often work long hours.

Who Killed Overtime Pay?
You Probably Aren't Getting Paid Overtime. Here's Why.

Lydia showed her hands weathered by 22 years of cleaning rooms at a Hyatt hotel in San Francisco, where she put in many overtime hours.

Seeking recognition of their union, hotel staff picketed San Francisco's Parc 55 hotel in 1989, accusing their employers of forcing them to work off the clock, preventing some workers from receiving overtime pay.

A housekeeper prepares a room at a San Francisco hotel in 2007. In nonunion hotels, workers put in hours loading their carts and performing other tasks, and are sometimes not paid for their time on such duties.

After then-Gov. Pete Wilson pushed to abolish overtime pay in 1997 for days of work longer than eight hours, people protested in front of the office of California's Industrial Welfare Commission in San Francisco. The state body ultimately voted to go along with the governor.

Betty Johnson was a daycare worker in the town of Cotati in Sonoma County in 2004. At the time, such employees had no legal overtime rights in California.

Who Killed Overtime Pay?
Can Biden Sharply Expand Overtime Pay?

In the break room of the sorting and recycling facility of Alameda County Industries in San Leandro, California in 2015, exhausted workers pause as the next shift clocks in.

Domestic workers and their children marched outside California's State Capitol building in Sacramento in 2012 to demand a bill of rights that included the right to overtime pay.

Workers at an Excel meatpacking plant in Nebraska in 1999 cut apart cow carcasses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many meatpacking employees were pushed to work overtime, but some industry employers have a spotty record when it comes to paying their workers for extra hours.

Amid huge washing machines in the industrial laundry of California Linen Service in Oakland in 1992, employees handle laundry from local hotels and care homes. Such workers sometimes put in more than 40 hours per week, especially when hotels are busy.

Yan Li sews clothes she received from a garment contractor at her Oakland home in 2005. Working on a per-piece rate, she earns no overtime despite working long hours. Unable to make ends meet, her family of immigrants from China often eat thanks to the county food bank.

Who Killed Overtime Pay?
Several States Are Taking the Lead on Restoring Overtime Pay

An immigrant carpenter framed a home under construction in Walnut Creek in 1997. Contractors in California often deny overtime pay to undocumented immigrants who are not unionized and who are aware that standing up to their bosses could result in a phone call to immigration authorities.

A driver in the port of Seattle, where such truckers frequently work long hours and have no right to overtime pay when they are classified as independent contractors.

Honorata Nono, a Filipina domestic worker, took care of the 94-year-old Michiko Uchida in her home in Berkeley, California, in 2016. Nono, then 67, was active in the campaign to make the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights permanent because domestic workers and caregivers had no right to overtime pay even though many worked 12 to 16 hours per day.

Port driver Burhan Abdi held a paycheck in Seattle in 2012 showing that, as an independent contractor, his hours were not accounted for, so he received no overtime pay.

Hakima Arhab, a Berber immigrant from Algeria, pictured in 2012. She said she was fired from the Oakland Airport concession for Subway sandwiches after complaining that the business was violating the airport's living wage ordinance and not paying overtime.

Agustin Ramirez and others outside the office of the Industrial Welfare Commission in San Francisco in 1997, opposed then-Gov. Pete Wilson's effort to abolish overtime pay for people working more than eight hours a day.

CHP officers threw Santa Rosa labor attorney Newman Strawbridge to the floor in 1997 and arrested him as protesters inside the hearing room of the Industrial Welfare Commission disrupted a meeting in San Francisco to try to stop its vote to abolish overtime pay for employees working a long day. Overtime remained possible for some people working more than 40 hours per week.

Mexican workers strike against Southern California construction companies in Los Angeles in 1995. They accused the companies of using their undocumented status to pressure them into working without overtime pay and other legal requirements.

These stories are a series on overtime produced by Capital & Main in partnership with the McGraw Center for Business Journalism at CUNY's Newmark Graduate School of Journalism and Type Investigations, with support from the Puffin Foundation.



More Than a Wall / Mas que Un Muro explores the many aspects of the border region through photographs taken by David Bacon over a period of 30 years. These photographs trace the changes in the border wall itself, and the social movements in border communities, factories and fields. This bilingual book provides a reality check, to allow us to see the border region as its people, with their own history of movements for rights and equality, and develop an alternative vision in which the border can be a region where people can live and work in solidarity with each other. - Gaspar Rivera-Salgado

David Bacon has given us, through his beautiful portraits, the plight of the American migrant worker, and the fierce spirit of those who provide and bring to us comfort and sustenance. -- Lila Downs

- a book of photographs by David Bacon and oral histories created during 30 years of covering the people and social movements of the Mexico/U.S. border
- a complex, richly textured documentation of a world in newspaper headlines daily, but whose reality, as it's lived by border residents, is virtually invisible.
- 440 pages
- 354 duotone black-and-white photographs
- a dozen oral histories
-  incisive journalism and analysis by David Bacon, Don Bartletti, Luis Escala, Guillermo Alonso and Alberto del Castillo.
- completely bilingual in English and Spanish
- published by El Colegio de la Frontera Norte with support from the UCLA Institute for Labor Research and Education and the Center for Mexican Studies, the Werner Kohlstamm Family Fund, and the Green Library at Stanford University

Price:  $35 plus postage and handling
To order, click here:

"The "border" is just a line. It's the people who matter - their relationships with or without or across that line. The book helps us feel the impact of the border on people living there, and helps us figure out how we talk to each other about it. The germ of the discussion are these wonderful and eye-opening pictures, and the voices that help us understand what these pictures mean." - JoAnn Intili, director, The Werner-Kohnstamm Family Fund


Letters and Politics - May 19, 2022
Three Decades of Photographing The Border & Border Communities
Host Mitch Jeserich interviews David Bacon, a photojournalist, author, broadcaster and former labor organizer. He has reported on immigrant and labor issues for decades. His latest book, More Than A Wall, is a collection of his photographs of the border and border communities spanning three decades.



Photographs by David Bacon

Chandler Museum
300 S. Chandler Village Drive
Chandler, AZ 85226
June 12, 2022 – August 28, 2022

La Quinta Museum
77885 Avenida Montezuma
La Quinta, CA 92253
January 8, 2023 – April 16, 2023


Online Interviews and Presentations
Exploitation or Dignity - What Future for Farmworkers
UCLA Latin American Institute
Based on a new report by the Oakland Institute, journalist and photographer David Bacon documents the systematic abuse of workers in the H-2A program and its impact on the resident farmworker communities, confronted with a race to the bottom in wages and working conditions.

David Bacon on union solidarity with Iraqi oil worker unions
Free City Radio - CKUT 27/10/2021 -
Organizing during COVID, the intrinsic value of the people who grow our food
Sylvia Richardson - Latin Waves Media
How community and union organizers came together to get rights for farm workers during COVID, and how surviving COVID has literally been an act of resistance.
Report Details Slavery-Like Conditions For Immigrant Guest Workers
Rising Up With Sonali Kohatkar

The Right to Remain

Beware of Pity

En Español
Ruben Luengas - #EnContacto
Hablamos con David Bacon de los migrantes y la situación de México frente a los Estados Unidos por ser el principal país de llegada a la frontera de ese país.

Jornaleros agrícolas en EEUU en condiciones más graves por Covid-19: David Bacon
SomosMas99 con Agustin Galo Samario

"Los fotógrafos tomamos partido"
Entrevista por Melina Balcázar Moreno - Laberinto

David Bacon comparte su mirada del trabajo agrícola de migrantes mexicanos en el Museo Archivo de la Fotografia


Online Photography Exhibitions
Documentary Matters -  View from the US 
Social Documentary Network
Four SDN photographers explore themes of racial justice, migration, and #MeToo
There's More Work to be Done
Housing Assistance Council and National Endowment for the Arts
This exhibition documents the work and impact of the struggle for equitable and affordable housing in rural America, inspired by the work of George “Elfie” Ballis.
Dark Eyes
A beautiful song by Lila Downs honoring essential workers, accompanied by photographs

A video about the Social Justice Photography of David Bacon:

In the FIelds of the North
Online Exhibit
Los Altos History Museum

Virtual Tour - In the Fields of the North
History Museum of Tijuana
Recorrido Virtual de la Exposicion - En los campos del norte
Museo de Historia de Tijuana

The David Bacon Archive exhibition at Stanford Libraries

Exhibited throughout the pandemic in the Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford. The online exhibition (, which includes additional content not included in the physical show, is accessible to everyone, and is part of an accessible digital spotlight collection that includes significant images from this body of work. For a catalog: (



Photographs and text by David Bacon
University of California Press / Colegio de la Frontera Norte

302 photographs, 450pp, 9”x9”
paperback, $34.95 (in the U.S.)

order the book on the UC Press website:
use source code  16M4197  at checkoutreceive a 30% discount

En Mexico se puede pedir el libro en el sitio de COLEF:

Los Angeles Times reviews In the Fields of the North / En los Campos del Norte - click here

THE REALITY CHECK - David Bacon blog

Other Books by David Bacon - Otros Libros

The Right to Stay Home:  How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration  (Beacon Press, 2013)

Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants  (Beacon Press, 2008)
Recipient: C.L.R. James Award, best book of 2007-2008

Communities Without Borders (Cornell University/ILR Press, 2006)

The Children of NAFTA, Labor Wars on the U.S./Mexico Border (University of California, 2004)

En Español:  

EL DERECHO A QUEDARSE EN CASA  (Critica - Planeta de Libros)


For more articles and images, see and

Copyright © 2022 David Bacon Photographs and Stories, All rights reserved.
you're on this list because of your interest in david bacon's photographs and stories
Our mailing address is:
David Bacon Photographs and Stories
address on request
OaklandCa 94601