The 2019 Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act was an overdue and historic win for farmworkers. For decades in New York, the people who grow the food we put on our tables were denied basic labor rights—including the right to a day of rest, sick pay, and the right to join a union.
Since 2019, farmworkers have been exercising their rights and fighting for the respect they deserve in the workplace. Last year, the workers at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic made history becoming the first group of farmworkers to unionize, voting to join Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, which I am fortunate to lead. This set the stage for other agriculture workers statewide to follow suit. In August, workers at Paumanok and Palmer Vineyards decided they also wanted to join our movement.
While this legislation delivered significant progress for farmworkers, there is one major difference between their rights and the rights afforded to all other workers. Farmworkers must work 60 hours a week, not the standard 40, to earn overtime.
Working in agriculture is unlike any job many of us have had—it is an industry that is extremely labor intensive and dangerous. Farmworkers must work throughout every season, every type of weather to harvest product. The workers are often at the beck and call of their employers: not only do they work on these farms, but many live on them too. Continue reading...