New York Farmers and Lawmakers at Odds Over New Farm Bill
It's not unusual for Upstate and Downstate New York to disagree on a wide range of topics. But the latest Farm Bill signed by Governor Cuomo even has some farm agencies saying the divide is getting wider. Here's what has everyone up in arms.
Titled, The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, the bill brings farmworkers more in line with the rest of New York employees. The right to unionize, overtime pay, 60-hour work week, and other benefits.
- Grants collective bargaining rights to farm laborers;
Requires employers of farm laborers to allow at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each week;
Provides for 60-hour work week for farmworkers;
Requires overtime rate at one and one-half times normal rate;
Makes provisions of unemployment insurance law applicable to farm laborers and reduces costs to farmers for ineligible workers (H-2A);
Ensures sanitary codes apply to all farmworker housing, regardless of the number of occupants;
Removes a payroll threshold for requiring farm labor employers to obtain workers' compensation coverage;
Allows farm laborers to receive disability and Paid Family Leave benefits; and
Requires reporting of injuries to employers of farm laborers.
The New York Farm Bureau is pretty vocal in expressing their dislike for the bill. They say the new law will "drive more family-owned farms out of the state or out of business. Worst of all, farmworkers will feel the impacts the most because their work hours will be restricted and their income reduced." They site 4 flaws in the bill:
- Applying a standard wage rate for farmworkers who decide to work on the prescribed day of rest.
Expanding the family farm definition to include close relatives such as aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Modifying the composition and timeline of the wage board.
Preserving secret balloting for both farmworkers and farmers.