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NOFA-NY sends action alerts when an important issue is coming up for a vote either at the State or Federal level in an effort to encourage members and concerned citizens to contact their representatives. To receive action alerts, sign up for our eNews on the right side of this page. 

Take Action on Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

NOFA-NY members have always supported fairness for all of the people who work on farms, farmers and hired workers alike (passed by member resolution in 2019). 

Unfortunately, the proposed Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act has several provisions which are just untenable for New York family farmers – especially one on overtime, which could cause our farmers to actually lay off workers during the busiest harvest times. As such, we must reject the bills in their current form.

NOFA-NY believes that fairness for both farmers and farmworkers can be accomplished, but more work is needed. We are asking our legislators to bring family-scale farmers and farmworkers, including both NYS residents and immigrants to the table to negotiate final language.

What's in the Bill?

S2837/A2750 and S3843 would address the following issues for farmworkers: 

  • collective bargaining rights;
  • a weekly day of rest;
  • unemployment insurance, disability benefits, and worker’s compensation;
  • employer-provided housing inspections; and,
  • overtime wages of time-and-a-half for work performed over eight hours in a day, or 40 hours in a week, in the case of S2837/A2750, or ten hours in a day, or 60 hours in a week, in the case of S3483.

NOFA-NY's Position

NOFA-NY supports the basic intentions of these bills, but cannot support them as written: specifically, the provisions for overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and employee housing.

In 2019, NOFA-NY members passed a resolution stating, “The members of NOFA-NY affirm that we stand for fairness for all of the people who work on farms, farmers and hired workers alike, and would support a revised version of FFLP IF family-scale farmers and representative farmworkers, including both NYS residents and immigrants, can be at the table to negotiate final language.” To read the complete resolution, "Support in Principle for Farmworker Fair Labor Practices bill," visit NOFA-NY's website.

NOFA-NY is asking our legislators to go back to the drawing table for a Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act with modifications to the overtime pay, unemployment insurance, and employee housing provisions. You can read our position on the proposed legislation here.

How You Can Take Action

Please take a few moments to email or call your New York Senator and Assembly Member on our Virtual Lobby Day on April 23 and urge them to support a 2019 Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act with a balanced approach to farmworker overtime pay that is good for farmworkers and small and mid-scale family farmers. You can use NOFA-NY's template letter here.

Not sure who represents you in Albany? Find their contact information here:

You can also attend an upcoming public hearing. Public hearings will take place in Madison County, Suffolk County, and Sullivan County. Details on these hearing are available here.

RELEASE: NOFA-NY to Testify on Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

April 25, 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Emma Ertinger, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
315-988-4000 x512

NOFA-NY to Testify on Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act
Executive Director to provide comments on S2837

Syracuse, NY—The Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY) will give testimony at a public hearing on the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act (FFLP) at SUNY Sullivan on Thursday, May 2.

FFLP (S2837/A2750) would provide farmworkers with a weekly day of rest, disability benefits, worker's compensation, and collective bargaining rights. It would also require overtime wages of time-and-a-half for work performed over eight hours in a day, or 40 hours in a week.

NOFA-NY's testimony on the proposed legislation ask lawmakers to reconsider provisions, namely overtime pay, that would disadvantage organic, sustainable farms.

"NOFA-NY members voted to support FFLP in principle, but the bill in its current form would hurt family farms," said Andrianna Natsoulas, NOFA-NY’s Executive Director. "We are concerned that the overtime pay provisions would significantly increase labor costs for all farms, making them unable to provide jobs for farmworkers."

New York State Senate Labor Committee Chair Jessica Ramos (SD-13) and Agriculture Committee Chair Jen Metzger (SD-42) are holding several public hearings on FFLP; the first hearing takes place today at SUNY Morrisville.

"We thank Senators Ramos and Metzger for holding public hearings in three agricultural communities across New York State," said Liana Hoodes, Policy Advisor to NOFA-NY. "It is critical that New Yorkers who are most affected by agriculture policy help shape this legislation."

NOFA-NY has proposed several measures to mitigate the negative effects of an overtime pay regulation, including a higher or seasonally adjusted overtime pay threshold, as well as increasing the farmworker tax credit afforded by the New York Farmworker Retention Credit program.

“We depend on farmworkers for practically every aspect of the farm, from planting to harvest and guiding our pick-your-own customers,” commented Josh Morgenthau of Fishkill Farms. “With these new overtime wage requirements, I do not know how we will afford it. That hurts everyone – the farm, farmworkers, and consumers.”

“Over the past 15 years, many of our workers return every season. They are familiar faces, part of the farm family,” said Brian Reeves of Reeves Farms LLC. "If I try to limit my workers to 40 hours per week to avoid these extra costs, there is no guarantee my workers will come back to New York when they have other states to choose from that do not restrict the hours worked.”

Following the third and final public hearing, the legislation will be considered in the State Senate's Labor Committee. NOFA-NY looks forward to working with our representatives in Albany to pass legislation that works for both farmworkers and farmers.

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Founded in 1983, the Northeast Organic Farming Association – New York (NOFA-NY) is the premier statewide organization growing a strong organic and sustainable agriculture movement in New York State. NOFA-NY provides education and assistance to local organic and sustainable farmers; connects consumers with organic and sustainable farmers; advocates policies that support a sustainable food and farm system at both the state and federal levels; and, is the largest USDA-accredited organic certifier in New York, certifying over 1,000 organic operations in the state. Learn more at www.nofany.org.


Contact Your Legislator

Calling or emailing your elected representatives is an easy yet powerful way to make your voice heard! Find your state and federal representatives below. 

Federal

United States House of Representatives: Find Your Representative

United States Senate: Find Your Senator

For New York State residents:

1200px Kirsten Gillibrand official portrait 112th Congress

  Kirsten E.Gillibrand (D - NY)
  478 Russell Senate Office Building
  Washington DC 20510
  (202) 224-4451
  Email

 

Chuck Schumer official photo cropped

  Charles E.Schumer (D - NY)
  322 Hart Senate Office Building
  Washington DC 20510
  (202) 224-6542
  Email

 

State

New York State Senate: Find Your State Senator
New York State Assembly: Find Your Assemblymember