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By Elise Kline

ALBANY, NY (WENY)–Some farming associations recently filed a motion in a U.S. District Court in New York to put a temporary restraining order on a state farm labor law called the New York Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act.

Some farmers express growing concern about elements of the labor law related to contract agreements that conflict with a federal immigration agricultural program called H-2A–which allows individuals from other countries to fill temporary agricultural jobs.

“These workers are really unique not just in agriculture but in any industry in that it’s probably the most heavily regulated employment situation,” said Joshua Viau, Partner at Fisher Phillips Law Firm.

Viau said some farms have received proposals from unions trying to guarantee H-2A the right to come back to their jobs year by year.

“That’s prohibited under the federal law. In fact, not only can you not guarantee that these workers will come back year after year, but you’re obligated to do whatever you can to try and find able, willing, and ready domestic workers,” he said.

Viau said the goal of the lawsuit is to get a system in place that is fair for everyone.

Some farmers said they support fair labor practices and the rights of farm workers both foreign and domestic, but they cannot be in conflict with themselves.

“Changes must be made so that everyone within New York State’s agricultural community is in compliance with both state and federal regulations,” said Brandon Mallory, owner of Specialty Crop Farm Labor Contractors, LLC.

The New York State Public Employee Relations Board declined to comment due to pending litigation.

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