FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WCCNY Applauds the passing of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act
Media Contact: Rebecca Fuentes 315-657-6799
June 19, 2019 – While many issues remain unresolved, a bill that passed the legislature today provides hope that farmworkers in New York State will no longer be excluded from the rights and protections other workers enjoy in organizing and collective bargaining.
Modifications to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act hashed in the last several days in committee provide for those protections and also ensure workers get at least one day off per week and that new sanitary standards are enforced at farm housing.
“This legislation is a great step forward in having the ability to organize and advocate for the rights and well-being of farmworkers who are so important to our state’s economy,” said Rebecca Fuentes, lead organizer with The Workers’ Center of Central New York. “It is long overdue.”
In exchange for a no-strike provision, the legislation provides other tools – such as employer neutrality and arbitration – that make it easier to for farmworkers to organize and bargain with employers.
“We are disappointed that the right-to-strike was not included in the bill and we will continue to fight to expand the rights of farmworkers. However, we’re encouraged about the new legal protections that have been so long in coming,” said Fuentes. Likewise, she said she hoped that a wage board that would be created by the law would act quickly in lowering (from 60 hours) the threshold for farmworkers to get overtime. “This is a matter of equity and fairness,” said Fuentes. “Those who labor in the fields, orchards and dairy barns work hard and deserve the same rights as others. It’s time New York State does the right thing.”
The Workers Center has played a pivotal role in pushing for passage of the bill. The group has been organizing on the ground and active in holding rallies and protests and helping workers make complaints about health and safety issues at their workplaces.
Former dairy worker Crispin Hernandez, a member of the center, was a plaintiff in case in which an appellate court last month found unconstitutional the exclusion of farmworkers from a state law that protects workers’ right to organize without fear of retaliation. That ruling help bolster the new legislation.