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We are located at the Syracuse Center for Peace and Social Justice Building 2013 E. Genesee St. Syracuse NY 13210 - Tel. 315-218-5708
Tag Archives: worker’s safety
PRESS CONFERENCE: Farmworkers, advocates and local residents speak up for dignity and respect in front of Melrose Farms
Press contact: Rebecca Fuentes (315) 657-6799 Workers’ Center of CNY
Farmworkers and advocates give a report to the community about the conditions at Melrose Farms. Enough is enough!
On February 7, 2018 the town of Owasco ordered the owner of Melrose Farms, in the town of Owasco, to “cease and desist” the use and occupancy of the building where he had been providing housing to farmworkers and their families (see attachment for more information). Many people came together to support the families who then became homeless. It was a beautiful show of support for the farmworker community, as the families were assisted in finding housing, food and support while they found another job.
The farm was not only in violation of housing code enforcement, but also the Cayuga county health department found the farm did not obtained any permit to build a septic tank for the housing and that the waste was being discharged into the farm’s manure lagoon.
Even before many of us became aware of the inhumane housing conditions at Melrose, several workers had contacted the Workers’ Center of Central NY to complain about wage theft, as workers were not getting minimum wage or getting payed for all their hours.
On Tuesday, August 28, we are coming back to Melrose farm to give a community report about today’s working and housing conditions at this farm. We will share worker’s testimonies about current conditions at Melrose and demand action from local officials.
WHAT: Farmworkers and advocates present a report to the community about working and living conditions at Melrose Farms. Farmworkers will share their testimonies about working and living at Melrose Farm.
WHERE: Across the road from Melrose Farms, 3815 Melrose Rd. Auburn, NY 13021
WHEN: Tuesday, August 28, 2018 at 11:00 am
WHY: Farmworkers deserve dignity and respect now!
Six months after Melrose Farm’s owner J. Tidd was ordered to cease and desist use and occupation of a building that was found unfit for human habitation, what has been done by the owner and the local authorities to correct the working and living conditions at this farm? We must speak up and continue the pressure so employers do the right thing. The safety and dignity of farmworkers as well as the environment, depends on it.
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Save the Date
Date: June 8 2018
Place: 2013 E. Genesee St Syracuse Ny 13210
Bosses Stealing your Tips?
Unsafe Working Conditions?
Not Getting Overtime Pay?
Hurt on the Job?
Come learn and share about your experiences with other workers! Hosted by the Workers’ by the Workers’ Center of Central New York, more details coming soon!
Please RSVP by 05/28/18
How to RSVP: call Kayla Kelechian (315) 385-9874, the Workers’ Center of Central New York (315) 218-5708 or email email@example.com
Please notify us if you will be needing interpretation or childcare services
This Sunday 2/25, we are going to have a meeting with worker leaders and we would also like to invite you all to discuss and a plan an event we are doing on March 8th in honor of the International Women’s Day. We would like to do a panel with some of our amazing women worker leaders to talk about the organizing we have been doing to protect and defend immigrants and farmworkers and we specifically want to highlight just how crucial and important it has been to have Slocum House as a resource to support that organizing. We will also share some updates with you all about Slocum and the local sanctuary coalition The meeting will be from 3-5 on Sunday at the Workers’ Center and there will be food, but bring a dish if you’d like. Please email Nikeeta Slade firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know if you are able to attend the meeting. Thanks and look forward to seeing you all soon.
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.
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 email@example.com.
Thank you all again so much for all of the support and solidarity!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your solidarity and support.
On January 16th, the Albany County Supreme Court dismissed our challenge to a Jim Crow-era state law that denies farmworkers the right to organize without fear of retaliation. As plaintiff and WCCNY organizer, Crispin Hernandez said “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.” According to WCCNY organizer, Rebecca, the judge’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.” Not only will we be appealing the judge’s decision, but we will continue fighting so that farmworkers will build power in the workplace and change their working and living conditions and the industry as a whole!
Worker’s Center of CNY – Contact: Rebecca Fuentes 315.657.6799 email@example.com
Worker Justice Center of NY – Contact: Carly Fox 518.500.9409 firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.
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.