New York – Beginning in 2023, farmworkers in New York will be granted overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a workweek (down from 60).
However, some local state legislators assert that they will not be as competitive as other states.
Labor advocates recently welcomed the decision by the State Labor Department to update the “outdated” laws for farmworkers.
“It puts them in equal footing finally, and really fully respects the work they are doing by giving them the equal pay for what other workers receive for working over 40 hours a week,” said Jessica Maxwell, Executive Director at The Workers Center of Central New York.
On Friday, those opposed to the plan gathered at Windmill Farms to talk about how farmers will be impacted.
“We are competing against apple growers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, they do not have the same rules that we have,” said David Coene, Co-owner of Windmill Farm.
Others claim that because local farms are already under so much financial stress due to inflation and rising gas prices, it will be disastrous for their operations.
Every year, Dulce Gelina brings in about 1,500 employees to assist local farmers in harvesting their crops.
She worries that if the reforms are approved, agricultural laborers may relocate to states with less stringent labor laws in search of employment.
“Our farmer are not dumb. If they cannot pay these overtime amounts they will simply bring more people and give less money to those workers, They still have the same amount to pick, if you have 20 workers, they’re going to make about this much if you have to bring in 30, they’re going to make less,” said Gelina.
According to the State Labor Board’s assessment, the reduction in overtime hours should happen gradually over the following ten years, reaching 30 hours in 2032, to give farmers time to get used to it.