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Grow NY Farms Calls on Lawmakers and the Governor to Remedy Legislative Flaws in Farm Worker Legislation

For months, New York’s agriculture community worked with a purpose to meet a fundamental goal of developing farm labor legislation that would protect the combined interests of farms and farmworkers. We negotiated in good faith with many majority lawmakers who were interested in hearing from those who would be directly impacted by the legislation. Political realities meant we had to come find a middle ground that was mutually beneficial.

We thought we had achieved that goal with a bill that while posing significant challenges for a struggling Industry, it was a vast improvement than where we started.  Unfortunately there were some flaws thrown into the legislation in the final days of this legislative session that made the bill unacceptable. Despite the passage of this flawed legislation (S.6578/A.8419), we have not given up on finding a way to fix those flaws.

These flaws include:

  1. A requirement that wages paid on the seventh consecutive day of work – are based on an overtime rate – if a farm worker waves their right to a day of rest.
  2. The definition of family fails to recognize the role of close relatives such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins – and would make their participation in farm activities subject to the new statute.
  3. The creation of a wage board lacks New York’s key agency expert on agricultural issues – the State Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Markets.
  4. Elections involving the ability to form a union lack the integrity of a secret ballot.

At this time, we believe it is in the interest of all parties to continue working together to address these flaws and move forward with legislation that farmers, farm workers and the labor community can mutually embrace and reflect the spirit of the dialogue and discussion that has taken place in recent months.

It is also important to note the significant role played by all the farmers, farmworkers and lawmakers who worked to build consensus on this issue.

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