The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which would give workers overtime pay, bargaining rights, expanded workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance and more, has stalled in the Senate. Despite Gov. David Paterson’s efforts to express his support for the bill, senators voted 31 approved and 31 opposed.
“We are making one last plea to the Senate to reject this horrible bill,” says Dean Norton, Batavia dairy farmer and president of New York Farm Bureau. “This bill completely ignores that farming is a seasonal business, dependent on Mother Nature. It is sponsored by New York City legislators and backed by special interest groups who don’t even represent real farmworkers.”
According to Farm Bureau estimates, the bill would cost New York farms $200 million each year.
Poughkeepsie-based Justice For Farmworkers, a Rural & Migrant Ministry, supports the bill and presented results from a statewide poll showing 79% of New York residents support farmworkers receiving pay for overtime, a guaranteed day of rest each week (91%), collective bargaining rights (69%), and disability insurance (85%).
“Now is the time for us, as people rooted in a faith tradition of justice and human dignity, to stand up and welcome farmworkers equally to the table,” says Rev. Richard Witt, director of Rural & Migrant Ministry. “We must now urge the Senate to pass the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.”
Read the full story in Lancaster Farming here.