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Farmworkers fair labor law set to take effect just as NY farmers file last-minute lawsuit

Dec 31, 2019

A coalition of dairy and vegetable farms in New York state has filed a last-minute federal lawsuit on Monday to try and temporarily halt a New York state law that will grant more labor protections to farmworkers. 

The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act is set to take effect on Wednesday, January 1, 2020. However, a lawsuit against the new legislation was filed on Monday, a day before the court closed for the New Year’s holiday and won’t open again until a day after the new law takes effect.

Credit wamc.org

Brian Reeves with the New York State Vegetable Growers Association says that the law does not differentiate between different types of employees.

“They’re all called farm laborers. Yet on our farms there are skilled laborers, some laborers that are less skilled, there are managers and supervisors and this law fails to recognize their existence,” Reeves said.

Advocates who fought for the passage of the new law were not immediately available for comment.

However, Gabriela Quintanilla with the Western New York Rural and Migrant Ministry said at a Labor Day event last September that the new law is a victory after a decades-long fight for farmworkers’ rights.

“It would give farmworkers the right to collectively bargain, a day of rest, and overtime pay over 60 hours. Which is not what we were trying to fight for, our goal was 40 hours, but it will decrease over time,” she said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the law granting more labor protections to farmworkers this past July.