Tag Archives: dairy

El Festival de la Cosecha/The Harvest Festival

Trabajadores del campo, miembros del Centro de Trabajadores que quieran ir, por favor déjennos saber y tal vez podamos conseguir raite! Este evento sera en Sodus NY: El Festival de la Cosecha, un evento para celebrar todas las contribuciones de los trabajadores agrícolas a la comunidad. Vamos a tener una mesa del Centro con información acerca de la membresía y sus beneficios para trabajadores agrícolas.
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Farmworkers, members of the center of workers who want to go, please let us know and maybe we can get ride! This event will be in Sodus NY: The Harvest Festival, an event to celebrate all contributions from agricultural workers to the community. We’re going to have a center table with information about membership and its benefits for agricultural workers.

*Press Release* Local Immigrant Advocates Applaud Governor Cuomo Press Conference on ICE Raids, Call for More Support to Local Groups on the Frontlines

Local Immigrant Advocates Applaud Governor Cuomo Press Conference on ICE Raids–Call for More Support to Local Groups on the Frontlines  

CONTACT INFORMATION: Rebecca Fuentes, organizer with the WCCNY‭,  rfuentes@workerscentercny.org (315) 657-6799‬

Fabiola Ortiz Valdez, organizer with the New York Immigration Coalition, fortiz@nyic.org (718) 514-6265

April 25, 2018, Syracuse, NY – On April 18, 2018, organizers from the Workers’ Center of CNY received a frantic call from a dairy farmer, John Collins, stating that just minutes before he had witnessed an unlawful arrest of his employee, Marcial De Leon Aguilar. Mr. Collins recounted how at least seven officers dressed in civilian clothes came to his farm without a warrant and physically assaulted and arrested Mr. De Leon Aguilar in front of his small children, as well as assaulting Mr. Collins and destroying his property.

Today, Governor Cuomo held a press conference condemning the recent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raid that took place in Rome, NY. We are thrilled that Governor Cuomo is ready to commit resources to fight the aggressions of ICE in upstate NY. Advocates and community members in Syracuse share the Governor’s outrage. We support the Governor in taking necessary steps to ensure that our immigrant communities are safe, such as his proposed executive order that bars ICE from entering NY State facilities without a warrant.

Peter Swords, a social worker and member of the Syracuse Peace Council states: “These actions send a message of affirmation to all that NY State continues its historic welcome of immigrants and refugees.  It particularly reassures families with children that they have some protection against arbitrary traumatic removal of their parents, and that families will feel safer about entering courts, schools, and hospitals, so they will keep their rights to self-determination in the important areas of housing, education and employment.”

We believe the Governor can even more effectively protect immigrant rights and public safety by reaching out to the local organizations who are documenting and responding first to these incidents for their policy and action suggestions. We urge all NYS Legislators and the Governor to support the campaign Green Light NY Driving Together to expand access to driver’s licenses, including to undocumented immigrants. In addition, these groups are highly under-resourced for their work. We strongly encourage targeting funding to these frontline grassroots organizations to ensure that immigrant needs are being met as effectively as possible.

Sheila Sicilia, a member of the Immigrant and Refugee Defense Network said: “The IRDN and the Workers’ Center, along with other community groups, have been fighting for human rights against the abuses of ICE and CBP.  We thank Governor Cuomo for recognizing and speaking out about this growing problem, and welcome him and the resources that he can provide.”

Kayla Kelechian, an organizer with the Workers’ Center of NY said in a statement: “The fear that plagues this community is reinforced by the use of illegal raids and physically aggressive tactics by ICE and the federal government. Both ICE and the Federal government under the Trump administration violated the rights of New Yorkers. In this case, citizenship did not matter–lawful citizens and immigrants are both affected. We must recognize the organizations and the resources they provide, regardless of their capacity, to advocate for the directly-affected, and the families who are left devastated. They continue to be our greatest asset in response to these difficult times.”

Local Immigrant Advocates Applaud Governor Cuomo Press Conference on ICE Raids

Rally for Dignified Living and Working Conditions!!!

Thanks so much for the outpouring of support. We are very happy to report that many Auburn community members in general and members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church have mobilized to provide the families with housing and financial. If you would like to support the family and find out what else they need, please contact the pastor Patrick Heery at pastor@westminsterauburn.org. Thanks so much to them and to so many of you for reaching out to your networks and working quickly to help provide support and solidarity with the families.  We invite you to join us in an action tomorrow at the farm to highlight the unjust and undiginified living and housing conditions and to demand justice.

Join us at the action tomorrow:

Rally for Dignified Living and Working Conditions
Friday, February 16th at 10:15am
3815 Melrose Road Auburn, NY 13021

Some of us will be leaving from the center at 9:00am to arrive a little earlier so if you would like to carpool with us, if you have any questions, or if you will be attending (even if you have your own transportation) please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscny.org.  

Thank you all again so much for all of the support and solidarity!

WCCNY

EMERGENCY ALERT: Evicted Farmworkers Need Housing in Auburn ASAP!

Hello friends,

Two families who worked and lived at Melrose Farm in Auburn New York are in need of housing. They lost their employer provided housing because it was in such a horrific, dangerous, and in uninhabitable state, that code enforcement just condemned it, leaving 5 children and two mothers without a place to live. The employer has received numerous warnings and requests from code enforcement and from workers to address the housing and unfortunately, rather than do so, he has chosen to be negligent which has forced the families into homelessness. The employer has told workers to stop inviting and speaking to two ESL teachers who have been supporting them with the housing and raising the fact that the workers are being sub minimum wages which is of course illegal. This violates the opinion and guidelines from the Attorney General’s office that says that farmworkers are permitted to have visitors as they choose. Essentially, the employer wants workers to not be empowered to know their rights and to take action to address the injustices on the farm.

We are reaching out to you all to see if you could reach out to your networks in Auburn to see if there are community members that could provide emergency housing for the 5 children and, 2 mothers. The fathers have found work in Auburn, and their new job provides housing for them, but not for their families. Also, the children have just enrolled in school, so to make sure their education and lives are not interrupted, the families need to stay in Auburn.

In addition to the housing needs, we are also in the process of planning an action today (or at the latest tomorrow) to hold the employer accountable and to get justice for the workers who have lost their housing so please be on stand by. We will send out details very soon.

If you have any leads on housing please email Nikeeta at nslade@workerscentercny.org.

Thanks for your solidarity and support.

We Will Keep Pushing To Be Treated Like Human Beings!

Worker’s Center of CNY – Contact: Rebecca Fuentes 315.657.6799 rfuentes@workerscentercny.org

Worker Justice Center of NY – Contact: Carly Fox 518.500.9409    cfox@wjcny.org

 

Court Rules Against Organizing Rights for Farmworkers, Advocates Plan Appeal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 16, 2018 – The Albany County Supreme Court today dismissed a challenge to a Jim Crow-era state law that denies farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation. Plaintiffs Crispin Hernandez, the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, who are represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union, plan to appeal the decision.

Under the New York Constitution, all workers have a right to organize and collectively bargain. Yet a more than 80-year-old law known as the Employment Relations Act includes a carve-out from these protections for farmworkers. The law reflects the segregationist politics of the Depression Era during which it was passed, when farmworkers were predominantly black.

Plaintiff Crispin Hernandez was fired from one of New York’s largest dairies, Marks Farms LLC in Lowville, after his employer saw him meeting with coworkers and an organizer to discuss workplace conditions. The meeting took place after work hours and in a worker’s personal residence. Hernandez had been working 12-hour shifts six days a week at Mark’s Farms since he was a teenager, but he lost both his job and his home.

When the plaintiffs filed suit in May of 2016, both Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman publicly agreed that the excluding farmworkers from the right to organize conflicts with the state constitution. Both declined to defend the lawsuit in court. In response, the New York Farm Bureau requested that the court allow it to intervene to defend the law as a party in the case. The plaintiffs and the NYCLU did not object to the Farm Bureau’s motion to intervene, allowing the matter to be resolved in the state courts.

“I am disappointed with today’s decision, but we will continue fighting for a victory,” said plaintiff Crispin Hernandez. “With the help of God and all of our supporters, we will change the conditions that we deal with as farmworkers and we will keep pushing to be treated like human beings.”

“It’s a shame that the judge has decided to continue the Jim Crow era exclusion of Farmworkers from the protected right to organize,” said Rebecca Fuentes, lead organizer at the Workers’ Center of Central New York, a plaintiff in the case. “Today’s decision is a slap in the face for workers like Crispin Hernandez who have to live under threat and intimidation from employers and law enforcement.”

Farming is a multi-billion-dollar industry in New York, yet farmworkers often earn wages well below the poverty level. Many live in overcrowded labor camps with sweatshop-like conditions, contending with infestations of rats, cockroaches and bed bugs, and no regular access to transportation. Farmworkers are excluded from workplace protections afforded to nearly all other workers, including a day of rest, overtime pay, disability insurance and the right to organize without retaliation.

Farmworkers operate dangerous machinery at grueling rates and use toxic chemicals, often without enough training. Their fatality rate is 20 times that of the average worker in New York. Some report working 95 hours a week. Most are racial minorities who do not speak English, and as many as 75 percent are undocumented, a fact supervisors use to intimidate them into silence.

“While we are disappointed with Judge McNally’s ruling today, we are steadfast in our resolve to continue our fight through the courts,” said Carly Fox, senior worker Rights Advocate at the Worker Justice Center of New York, a plaintiff in the case. “We know that, ultimately, we stand on the side of justice and we won’t stop until we win, simply because the workers we serve are depending on it. When we are out in the field, hearing from farmworkers about the dangerous conditions on farms, depressed wages, grueling hours and unsanitary and sub-standard employer-provided housing, we know that the best resource workers have is their unity. The Worker Justice Center of New York will fight for equality for farmworkers until it is won.”

“Because of an outdated law, the people we rely on for the food in our kitchens are condemned to poverty, abuse and even death,” said NYCLU senior staff attorney and lead counsel on the case Erin Beth Harrist. “We will appeal this ruling and continue to fight this law, which violates our constitution and our state’s commitment to human rights.”

“We will not rest until farmworkers are free to organize and have a voice in their working conditions,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “Today’s decision will not deter us from making sure that farmworkers enjoy the same basic rights as every other hardworking New Yorker.”

In addition to Harrist, NYCLU staff on the case include Legal Director Arthur Eisenberg, associate legal director Christopher Dunn, staff attorney Jordan Wells, staff attorney Aadhithi Padmanabhan, and paralegal Andrea Barrientos.

Another tragedy at Marks Dairy Farm in Lowville, NY

Dairy farms can be a dangerous workplace. Between 2006 and 2015, there have been 69 dairy farm fatalities, according to data compiled by the New York state Department of Health.

We wrote this op-ed to review the history of labor abuse at this farm, and why maybe this fatality was preventable.

By Carly Fox and Rebecca Fuentes | Special to Syracuse.com

We didn’t personally know Ryan C. Ouellette, the dairy worker who was killed in a tragic workplace “accident” Nov. 19, 2017, at Marks Farm, a factory farm on the southern border of the Adirondacks in Lowville, but we are deeply saddened by his death. Ouellette died after his head became trapped in a manure separator machine. This tragedy occurred on the eve of our nation’s day to give thanks for food and family. Despite years of efforts by farmworkers and advocates to improve health and safety conditions at Marks Farm, dairy farmworkers continue to be exposed to significant risks of injury and death that are ultimately preventable.

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Farmworker and Immigrants Rights News

Read Farmworker Justice’s press release about Congressman Goodlatte’s introduction of a devastating bill to expand the H2A guest worker program to year round workers which would include dairy workers.

Chobani Meeting Update!

The past couple of months, many of you have written messages to Chobani urging them to meet with us to talk about our MILKED report.  We are excited to report that a few weeks ago, on August. 18th, we met with representatives from Chobani and discussed our MILKED report which details the conditions that workers face on dairy farms. Worker-leaders shared powerful testimonies about the preventable deaths and injuries, wage theft, retaliation against workers for speaking out, and other pressing issues. This meeting is the beginning of what we hope is an on-going dialogue to address the systemic abuses and exploitation in the dairy industry. We thank you all for all of your support, whether it was sending messages, circulating the report, or attending the rally in front of Chobani in New York City. Thanks and we will continue to keep you all updated!

MILKED Report Panel – Ithaca

Monday, July 31st at 7pm
The Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition has invited farmworkers, researchers, and organizers from the WorkersCenter of CNY and the Worker Justice Center of New to speak on a panel about the MILKED report which documents the living and working conditions of dairy farmworkers in upstate New York. Join us to find out more about the report findings and about what we can do next to support the rights of immigrant dairy workers in New York.

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Emergency Action to Demand Stolen Wages for Farmworker

Thursday, July 27th at 2pm (Meeting at WorkersCenter at 1pm to carpool)
8770 Number 4 Road East, Fabius NY 13063

WCCNY Members will be engaging in a collective action against an unscrupulous farm owner in Fabius, NY. The employer fired a worker last week because the worker was sick for two days. Additionally, the employer not only paid this same worker sub-minimum wages, but he has also illegally withheld the worker‘s first paycheck.  Join the WCCNY worker leaders and members in a collective action as to demand stolen wages, respect and dignity in the workplace, an end to illegal deductions from paychecks, and no violence against workers!

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