Farm workers in New York have the right to unionize

Local News

In a 4 to 1 ruling, a New York State appeals court has struck down rules preventing farm workers from unionizing.

The appellate division’s third department sided with an Upstate New York farmhand who had been fired for meeting with groups advocating for farmworker rights.

The New York State Farm Bureau stepped in to defend the law after Governor Cuomo and the State Attorney General’s Office decided that it was unconstitutional.

Granting collective bargaining rights was one of 3 planks of the proposed Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.

The others are allowing them to receive overtime pay and mandating weekly periods of rest.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo is the chair of the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee.

She says the bill has been introduced in the labor committee.

“I’m working very closely with the Chair of the Labor Committee, as the Chair of Agriculture, to find a path forward.  My commitment is to try to find a way to honor the issues that are being raised by our farmworkers, at the same time to respect the concerns and challenges we’re hearing about from our farmers.  I’m trying to come up with some common ground and a path forward, working with my colleagues in the Labor Committee.”

Lupardo says the state needs to look at the whole ecosystem and consider tax credits or infrastructure help for farmers to offset any regulatory changes.

The Farm Bureau estimates that the overtime changes alone would increase labor costs for farmers by 17 percent, driving many of them out of business.

The Farm Bureau says it plans to appeal the court’s ruling.

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