Farm workers and labor rights — a perennial issue
At your local farmer’s market, the discussion is more likely about tomato varieties than farm workers’ rights. But such labor issues have returned to Albany, as sure as the harvest. The New York Senate again defeated a labor-rights bill this month. Journal News reporter Diana Costello follows up today with reaction from growers and worker advocates.
The bill would have provided rights that farm workers are excluded from: time-and-a-half overtime pay and one day of rest a week. New York farmers say the measure would be too costly, particularly because they operate at narrower margins than the rest of the nation. Growers also say their labor needs are different because of the demands of the harvest.
Workers at Stuart’s Farm in Somers (photographed) travel from Jamaica on H2A visas for seasonal laborers. Such workers would not have been subject to the bill. But those visas are the subject of another clash, this one between the U.S. and Jamaica. Workers were not being admitted because of objections that Jamaica took a cut of workers’ paychecks, according to the NY Daily News. Facing labor shortages, farmers sought help from Sen. Charles Schumer. Here’s the story and the update.
(Photo: Xavier Mascareñas/The Journal News)