US: NY bill gives farmworkers rights

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed off on the Farmworkers’ Fair Labor Practices Act, drastically improving the lives of over 100,000 farm workers and their families. The bill was sponsored by Democratic Senator Jessica Ramos.

 In an interview with New York Daily News, Governor Cuomo highlighted that “the farmworkers bill is not just a great achievement in terms of the effect on the human condition. It’s also a milestone in the crusade for social justice. It truly is a moment for reflection and celebration.”

 The new legislation addresses the standard or working conditions for New York State farmers, including sanitary codes for farm and food processing labor camps. The Act also provides farm workers with the same protections that employees in other fields have had for almost a century, including “unemployment, disability insurance, workers compensation, overtime, paid family leave, a day of rest and the right to collectively bargain”.

 “The agriculture industry is crucial to New York’s economy and workforce. Today we are standing up for farm labourers and giving them the rights that they deserve while continuing to work with the agriculture industry to help them be successful,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said.

 The bill took several years to push through.  Cuomo highlighted the hard work of the many individuals and groups who made the passing of the Act by signing each letter of his name with a different pen. 

“It was a long, hard, complicated crusade to bring justice to the downtrodden and the powerless. It is a lesson that the fight for justice is not easy or popular or fast. But that makes it even more important and vital” he said.  


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Sonja Duncan