Statement of Edward Cardinal Egan on Farm Workers Rights

Published on May 1st, 2001

Statement Issued for Farm Worker Advocacy Day

Farm worker Advocacy Day has become an annual event. On this day we recognize the dignity and rights of farm workers and the life-giving service they provide to the people of the State of New York. Sometimes in our modernized world, it is easy to forget the exhausting labor performed by both farm workers and farmers to bring abundant and nutritious food to our tables.

In past years, through dedicated efforts, significant gains have been made in the quality of farm worker life. Much more needs to be accomplished. Our Catholic social teaching reminds us that every person is made in the image and likeness of God and has a right to proper working conditions, to just remuneration, to organize and bargain collectively, and to seek justice and fairness in one’s life. We affirm today that these rights include provisions for adequate rest and health and injury protection.

Catholic social teaching also emphasizes the importance of farmers and particularly the family farm to our economic health and social well-being. The interests of farm workers and farmers are inseparable linked.

All of us have a responsibility to find ways to meet the moral imperatives of the dignity of farm workers amid the challenge of ensuring the right to economic initiative of farmers. This goal will only be accomplished through mutual understanding and constructive dialogue.

The first of May is recognized as a day to honor workers throughout the world. In the Catholic tradition it is also the feast day of St. Joseph the Worker. Today, we celebrate and give thanks for the workers who produce our food. We commit ourselves anew to establish just measures that will protect and ensure the dignity of farm workers. Finally, we look forward to a fruitful dialogue between farmers and farm workers that will acknowledge their mutual interests and ensure the abundant blessings of their labor for all of society.

+Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York
President, New York State Catholic Conference

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