New York lawmakers OK farmworker rights bill

Local News

Lawmakers in Albany have voted to give farmworkers the right to organize, collect overtime and get a day off.

The Democrat-led Senate and Assembly passed the legislation Wednesday after several hours of debate.

Under current law, farm laborers do not have the right to organize. The proposal would change that, and ensure that farmworkers earn overtime if they work more than 60 hours a week. They would also be guaranteed one day of rest each week.

Supporters, including many farm laborers, their advocates and groups including the Catholic Church, say the workers deserve the same rights and benefits as other workers. Many farm owners had warned that the measure could dramatically increase farm labor costs.

Lawmakers passed the bill as they prepare to adjourn for the year this week.

State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) voted against the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act. He said it will drive family farms out of business and have other profound repercussions throughout local farm economies.

“It’s another bad move at the worst possible time when too many family farms across our region and statewide are already struggling to make ends meet and survive.  This action has devastating implications for family farms and an entire agricultural industry that has long been the cornerstone of economies and cultures across the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions, and throughout upstate New York.  It’s another extreme move by a radically progressive state government, under one-party control, that will cost jobs, devastate hard-working families, and further weaken the foundations of local upstate economies.”
~ State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats)

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