The following editorial was written by the Auburn Citizen Editorial Board. Visit their website here.
Auburn Citizen: Our view: New York farm labor reforms must not be rushed
A recent court decision in support of labor protections for farmworkers in New York must not be used to as an excuse for hurriedly passing far-reaching legislation.
An appeals court ruled last week that farm laborers should have the same right to union protection as people in other industries. Civil rights advocates say overtime, time off, and the right to collective bargaining are long overdue. Farmers say that added labor costs would mean higher prices for commodities and put some farmers out of business entirely.
The state Legislature has been studying farm labor legislation this year, and several hearings have been held to collect public input. Those hearings have revealed that while some opinions are very far apart, there are realistic reforms that are ripe for compromise. Paying workers overtime for any day that goes beyond eights hours may not be realistic in a agricultural setting, but giving workers at least one day off per week is something that could probably be worked out without too much of a problem.
The importance of the agricultural industry in New York can’t be overstated — especially in rural areas like Cayuga County — and farm labor can’t be summed up as a single issue, because there are many specific parts to it. So with just a few days remaining in the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers must resist passing farm legislation that hasn’t been fully thought through….
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