Farmworkers move protest to Albany

Sostenes Uribe, one of New York State’s thousands of migrant workers thank supporters at a recent Justice for Farmworkers Campaign fundraiser.
Photo by Donna Lamb
Photo by Donna Lamb

New York State farmworkers and their supporters urge other people of conscience to join them in Albany on May 21 as they keep the pressure on the legislature to change the state’s labor laws that categorically exclude farmworkers from basic worker rights and protections.

The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act would:

•Require employers of farm laborers to allow at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each week

•Provide for an eight-hour work day for farm laborers, requiring an overtime rate at one and one-half times the normal rate

•Grant collective bargaining protections to farm laborers

•Ensure that the sanitary codes apply to all farm and food processing labor camps intended to house migrant workers, regardless of the number of occupants, and

•Require that on-the-job injuries be reported and that owners provide farmworkers with claim forms for worker’s compensation.

Versions of this bill have been introduced in the state legislature since 2006. Its passage is already assured in the assembly; however, it remains stalled in the senate, where it languishes in the Rules Committee, controlled by Republican Senator Dean Skelos. The bill needs 38 sponsors to force it to be brought to the senate floor for a vote, where it would require a simple majority vote to pass.

The May 21 plan of action is as follows: Registration will take place at Westminster Presbyterian Church at 262 State St. in Albany at 10:00 a.m. Lunch will be served at 11 am as legislative team meetings are held. At 12 noon, participants will march to the capital. At 1:00 p.m. there will be a press conference, followed by legislative visits, a prayer vigil and street theater. The action is expected to conclude around 3:30 pm.

For further information, please contact Justice for Farmworkers Campaign coordinator Gerardo Gutierrez at (845) 485-8627.

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