Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

Published on June 18th, 2019

Memorandum of Support

S.6578 Ramos / A.8419 Nolan
In relation to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act would address a number of the exemptions in New York’s labor, public health and workers compensation laws that currently prevent farmworkers from accessing rights and privileges available to other workers. The New York State Catholic Conference supports this compromise bill and strongly urges its long-overdue enactment by the legislature.

“For years, the Catholic Church has advocated for equal rights and fair treatment for farmworkers,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, has said. “It is a human rights issue.”

This legislation, which represents a consensus among the stakeholders, will improve the lives of farmworkers, while recognizing the unique nature of the farming business. The bill establishes worker protections, including collective bargaining rights and a 24-hour day of rest every calendar week. It makes the provision of unemployment insurance law applicable to farm laborers, provides eligibility of farm laborers to workers compensation benefits, and applies the sanitary code to migrant housing. While the bill contains some new overtime provisions, it also establishes a pathway to continued progress on this issue moving forward.

We commend Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, the longtime sponsor, for her tenacious advocacy for many years, as well as Senator Jessica Ramos, the new sponsor in that house, who has made it a priority. Their leadership has forged a consensus between the farmworker advocates and the state’s farmers that has resulted in this historic legislation.

By recognizing the rights of farmworkers and the unique contributions of agriculture, New York will bring economic fairness, safety, and dignity to the production of agricultural goods from which we all benefit.