NY Assembly and Senate pass the Farmworker bill at last!

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.

Historic win for New York Farmworkers!

Appeals Court rules in favor of Workers’ Center member: Farm workers included in constitutionally protected right to organize! 

May 23, 2019 – The exclusion of farmworkers from a state law that protects workers’ right to organize without fear of retaliation is unconstitutional, an appellate court in Albany has ruled. The court sided with former dairy worker Crispin Hernandez, a member of the Workers’ Center in Syracuse, NY, in a decision released today.  Hernandez and the center along with the Worker Justice Center of New York were plaintiffs in the suit filed by the ACLU after Hernandez was fired from his job at Marks Dairy in Lowville, NY for attempting to organize fellow workers after hours.

“This is a victory for farmworkers, as we have finally had our day in court,” said Hernandez. “All workers deserve to have a voice and be heard at their place of work, and farmworkers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Agriculture is big business in New York, and the work is difficult. Most of the farmworkers are immigrants and, without the same protections as other workers, they are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. The suit, filed in 2016, argued that the exclusion of farmworkers violates the rights to organize and collectively bargain that are enshrined in the New York Constitution. The powerful Farm Bureau, which represents the interests of farm owners, sought to preserve the exclusion.

Rebecca Fuentes, lead organize with The Workers’ Center of Central New Yorksaid the ruling was a big win for farmworkers.“Today, the court recognized that farmworkers are entitled to the same rights as all other workers in New York state,”Fuentes said.“Farmworkers make essential contributions to New York and to all of our lives. Their labor produces the food, nutrition, and money that sustain our economy and our communities.”

Alongside today’s ruling, state lawmakers are considering legislation that would grant farmworkers the same rights as almost all other hourly workers in New York in addition to collective bargaining. These include overtime pay and a day of rest.

Fuentes said the court ruling provides more impetus for the passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which would codify those protections.

The ruling is available here: http://decisions.courts.state.ny.us/ad3/Decisions/2019/526866.pdf.

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The Workers Center of Central New York in Syracuse has been working with dairy workers to organize for fair, safe and humane working conditions. Dairy production is essential to the economy of New York State yet workers, who are mostly immigrants, often labor under harsh and unjust conditions. For an overview, see our comprehensive 2017 report, “Milked: Immigrant Dairy Farmworkers in New York State. www.milkedny.org

Census 2020 Press Conference

New York Counts 2020 is a statewide coalition of 190 partners from across the state. We seek to maximize participation in the 2020 Census. The coalition represents a wide array of issues and industries that include immigrant rights, labor, education, religion, health, government, technology, business, and libraries.

We held a Press Conference on April 1st for the 2020 census. We stood in front of the State Building in downtown Syracuse, NY. We are urging other Community-Based Organizations to join our coalition to help count the hard to reach communities. New York Counts 2020 is asking The State of New York to invest $20 million for a community -based outreach for the 2020 census. Community-based organizations need to assure that the people who are at the most risk of not being counted are indeed counted. Members of the coalition who spoke at the press conference were Fabiola Ortiz from New York Immigration Coalition. Kayla Kelechian from the Worker’s Center of CNY. Scott Kushner, a rep form Liverpool Library spoke about the digital divide. Abdul Saboor, Community Navigator representing InterFaith Works, Office for New Americans and Telia Canion, Member of the Workers’ Center of CNY spoke about why she needs to be counted.

Our newest Workers Center Leader member Telia was able to speak at the press conference. We are very proud of her for her courage to stand up a speak in public for the first time!

Her is her full statement:

My Name is Telia Canion I am a member of the Workers’ Center of Central New York and I’m here today to say that I need to be counted, and my community needs to be counted. The Census is important for me because It will help people.  The funding that will be provided to programs that help my community thrive, depends on us being counted correctly.


I am important, I want to be counted. My needs are important, and so are the needs of my community. We need community groups to help educate us about the importance of filling out the census and what we can lose if we don’t fill it out. We need community groups to help us when we have a problem filling out the census, or when we have questions.

But if community organizations don’t have the resources to help communities like mine, who will do the work? Who will help us to be counted? I want to be included in the count, but If my community doesn’t know why it matters, then it won’t be easy to count us. Leaving our voices out is saying we don’t exist and don’t matter.

Our immediate future depends on it. I heard the census will be available online, well what If there are people without internet? Or who don’t speak English?

The Governor is acting as if we don’t matter, and that we don’t count. We need that $40 million to be counted, it is the least they can do to make sure we exist, and programs that help us exist continue to exist. We matter, we count. CNY Counts!

for more information check out: https://www.newyorkcounts2020.org/

https://www.newyorkcounts2020.org/




Central New York Counts! Census2020 Press Conference

New York Counts 2020 is asking New York state to invest $40 million in community -based outreach for the 2020 census. Community based organizations need resources to assure that the people that are at greatest risk of not being counted are indeed counted! People will need to utilize many of the programs such as Medicaid, Highway planning, and SNAP, that rely on an accurate count of New York’s population.

People in our communities may face hurdles to be included in the census. Community based organizations need to be there for them to assist in anyway we can. As an added hurdle for many, for the first time, the census will be conducted primarily through online responses.

Community based organizations, libraries, and learning centers are uniquely positioned to assist and reach the hardest-to-count groups because of their earned trust and cultural and language competence.

Join us in front of the State Building Monday at 4PM to make sure Albany understands the importance of approving the $40million for the state, and for funds to go to our much needed community based organizations in and around Syracuse and Onondaga.

At this time, we are reaching broadly to community groups, community centers, learning centers, and elected officials. If you are a representative of a group and would like to co-sponsor this event, please contact Marianna.kaufman@gmail.com. Please share widely with other community groups servicing hard to reach populations to ensure we have a wide representation. NYCounts2020 is also looking for community endorsers for the coalition.

Tell Your Story Training

We turn to storytelling in organizing to answer the question of “why?” why we care, why the work that we do matters, why we value one goal over another. Storytelling allows us to communicate our values, and in organizing, we use stories to articulate our shared values. Each of us can learn to tell our story that can move others to action. We all have stories of challenge and hope. The trick is, to articulate a story , so it communicates the values that called us to lead and unite. Also, challenges that we must overcome together.

At our March 21, 2019 meeting we did a training on how to tell your story. We watched a brief video story about a women name Maura. Maura is a garment worker in Los Angeles, CA. Maura was fired from her job for speaking up about the inhumane conditions. She went to her local Workers Center for help. We watched Maura grow from a shy person into a vocal member leader at her local Workers Center. We discussed the fears that kept Maura from speaking out at first. How Joann, an organizer, encourages Maura to tell her story and explain how everyone has leadership potential.

In our training we spoke of how a story structure is made up of three elements: plot, character, and moral, but a story comes alive when the character faces a challenge, makes a choice, and experiences the outcome. The Public Narrative framework is comprised of a Story of Self, a Story of Us, and a Story of Now, and learning to craft and re-craft your Public Narrative is a leadership practice. We were able to write, tell our stories and practice public speaking.

We want to say thank you to all who attended our monthly meeting/ training. We have a meeting/ training every month. If you missed this one, that’s ok! We will see you at the next one.

Building Equity Together with the Urban Jobs Task Force

The upcoming I-81 Viaduct and community grid project is an opportunity for The City of Syracuse to expand and grow. Millions of dollars will be coming into the city for this project which means employment for City residents. I-81 promises jobs that could revive our struggling city’s economy, regardless of the option chosen.

One of the main questions asked is, who will get these jobs? The Urban Jobs Task Force and Legal Services of CNY have noticed the extreme disparity in the local construction industry workforce along racial, gender and residential lines. The UJFT conducted a Racial Equity Impact Statement (REIS). The name of the report is Building Equity together in the Construction Trades.

Next step is, to get the information out.

Workers’ Center of CNY organizers sat with the Urban Jobs Task Force to figure out the best way to get the information out. It was decided to hold a dinner and invite community stakeholders, public officials, residents, and other community organizations. Countless days and hours passed as we sat together trying to figure it out. Who do we invite? How many people should attend? Where will the location be? What will go inside the information folder? Seating arrangements? And many more questions asked.

On March 14, 2019, we had the Building Equity Together event at the Downtown Marriott Syracuse. Over 100 people attended. Decka Dancil president of the UJTF hosted the event. Andrew Croom lawyer with Legal Services of CNY and one of the authors of the REIS Report gave the presentation. Croom outlined the History of Racial Discrimination in the city of Syracuse, The Current State of the Syracuse Workforce, Policies Addressing Equity on Construction Projects and the Trades Racial Diversity on Large Scale Municipal Projects in the Syracuse Area. We heard stories from workers who are directly affected. We learned about the struggles they went through with finding employment and being able to get construction training. We heard about their future hopes for gainful employment through the I-81 project.

At the end of the presentation, we did a call to action. We asked attendees to fill out commitment cards. Asking what commitments can they make today to ensure Racial Equity in the Construction Trade. Create a diligent and effective roundtable of Unions? Create a roundtable of Workforce developers, community stakeholders, and government officials around I-81 development. Using their platform for outreach and publicity in our community to further the mission.

We ended the night awarding Aggie Lane with the Building Equity Service Award.

The Urban Jobs Task Force is a collaboration of individuals and
organizations concerned about the lack of access to employment
opportunities in Syracuse and resulting in poverty faced by citizens. The UJTF advocates for job training, accessible apprenticeships, impactful legislation and community action that will lead to reduced poverty through good-paying jobs. Workers’ Center of CNY is a proud member of UJTF.

https://mysouthsidestand.com/more-news/building-equity/

https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.urbancny.com%2Furban-jobs-task-force-and-legal-services-of-cny-release-building-equity-in-the-construction-trades-a-racial-equity-impact-statement

To read the full report go to:https://www.ujtf.org/reis

Join us March 12 in Albany for Equal access to Driver Licenses for NY immigrants!

The Workers’ Center of Central NY and all of our partners of the Green Light NY: Driving Together coalition invites you to Albany on March 12th for a statewide day of action. Transportation will be provided and coordinated regionally. Please fill out the form below to register for the day of action and arrange transportation. We hope you will join us in Albany to demand Driver’s Licenses for ALL New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status!

Save the date and register here: bit.ly/GLNYMobilize3-12
* * *
El Centro de Trabajadores del Centro de NY y todos nuestros compañeros y compañeras de la coalición Luz Verde: Manejando Juntos invitan a Albany el 12 de marzo para un día de acción en todo el estado. El transporte será proveer y coordinado regionalmente. Rellene el siguiente formulario para registrarse para el día de la acción y organizar el transporte. ¡Esperamos que nos acompañe a Albany para exigir licencias de conducir para TODOS los neoyorquinos, sin importar su estatus migratorio!

Guarde la fecha y registrarse aquí: bit.ly/GLNYMobilize3-12

On the Road to Win Equal Access to Driver Licenses for NY Immigrants!

Great day to visit senator Rachel May and Assemblyman Bill Magnareli to thank them for co-sponsoring legislation to restore access to driver licenses for undocumented immigrants in NY. We also visited the offices of Assembly representatives Pamela Hunter and Al Stirpe to remind them to co-sponsor, as they told us earlier in the year that they would do. As we were leaving the office of Assemblywoman Hunter we got the news that yesterday she submitted the appropriate paperwork to officially be listed as a co-sponsor. We encourage everyone who supports immigrants in Upstate to please call the office of Assembly representative Al Stirpe to encourage him to follow thru and support immigrants, many of which work in agriculture which is an important industry in his district.

Thank you to Senator Rachel May for co-sponsoring!
Thank you to Assembly representative Bill Magnareli for co-sponsoring!
Thank you to Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter for co-sponsoring!
Support immigrant workers, Assemblyman Al Stirpe!!!! Time to sign on as a co-sponsor as you said you were going to do!!!

Green Light Senate Call in Day 2/22 Día de llamadas del senado LUZ VERDE 2/22

ENGLISH (véase abajo para instrucciones en Español)

Please make 2 calls today:

1. Your Senator (can be found here)

2. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (518) 455-2585

My name is (YOUR NAME) and I am from (YOUR CITY OR TOWN). I am one of the thousands of residents who support expanding access to licenses for undocumented New York residents. This will make our roads safer, it will allow people to follow the same process as everyone else and keep families together.  The bill number is S01747 / A03675. This bill is important to me because (REASON YOU SUPPORT LICENSES). Our community can not wait any longer, I urge you to sign on as a co-sponsor and take action to pass A03675/S01747 as soon as possible. Can we count on you to support expanded access to driver’s licenses?

If supportive:

Thank you! We look forward to working together with you to get S01747 / A03675 passed! The Green Light Coalition will be in Albany March 12th and we hope to count on your support.

If noncommittal or unsupportive:

What additional information do you need about the bill to address your concerns? Is there someone in your office our campaign can follow up with?

Please share a picture or video on social media and tag your rep and leadership!  Here are the graphics to share.

—–

ESPAÑOL

Favor de hacer 2 llamadas hoy:

1. Su senador (encuentre su senador aquí)

2. Lideresa de la mayoría del senado Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (518) 455-2585

Mi nombre es (SU NOMBRE) y soy de (SU CIUDAD O PUEBLO). Soy uno de los miles de residentes que apoyan expandir el acceso a licencias de conducir para incluir a los indocumentados.  Esta ley hará más seguras nuestras calles, permitirá que las todas las personas sigan el mismo proceso que los demás y se mantendrán unidas las familias. El número de la propuesta de ley es S01747 / A03675. Esta propuesta me importa porque (RAZON POR LA CUAL USTED APOYA LICENCIAS). Nuestra comunidad ya no puede esperar, le imploro que se anote como patrocinador y tomar acción para pasar la legislación A03675/S01747 lo más pronto posible. ¿Podemos contar con usted para apoyar expansión de acceso a las licencias de conducir?

Si apoya:

¡Gracias! Esperamos con mucha anticipación trabajar juntos con usted para aprobar a S01747 / A03675.  La Coalición de luz verde va a estar en Albany el 12 de Marzo y esperamos contar con su apoyo.

Si es evasivo o no apoya:

¿Qué información adicional necesita sobre el proyecto de ley para resolver sus inquietudes? ¿Hay alguien en particular en su oficina con quién nuestra campaña puede dar seguimiento?

Por favor comparte una foto o video en las redes sociales y etiqueta a su representante y el liderazgo, aquí está nuestra fotos para compartir en las redes sociales.

Cena Navideña

**ESPAÑOL**
Ven y convive entre miembros y aliados en una cena Navideña. La cena será para resaltar el apoyo de los aliados en la lucha y celebrar la Navidad. Si usted puede ayudar a asistir a la fiesta llevando un plato para compartir sería muy apreciado! 

Para mas información por favor llamar a Kayla, (315) 385-9874 Y Si tienes Niños porfavor confirma con cuantos niños vienes por que tendremos regalos para ellos.

**ENGLISH**
Members, Allies, and Friends of the Workers’ Center of Central New York Come and celebrate the Holidays with a “Cena Navideña” or Christmas Dinner. All are welcome to join in the festivities where members and friends will give special recognition to the allies who support us in our stuggles. If you are a member or a friend who would like to help, bringing a dish will be greatly appreciated!

Link to FB event https://www.facebook.com/events/125100105092990/