Farmers sue New York State, Gov. Cuomo for being excluded from basic rights

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Lawyers for the New York Civil Liberties Union, along with farm workers from across New York State gathered and spoke at the steps of East Capitol Park in Albany Tuesday announcing a lawsuit filed against New York State and Governor Cuomo.

They say farm workers are excluded from the basic rights afforded all workers in New York State under the state constitution.

“The right of all working people to organize and fight for dignity and fair treatment on the job,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director at NYCLU.

“The fact that they don’t have a day off, they don’t get paid overtime, they don’t have the right to collectively bargain and work under very adverse conditions is a travesty. I find this so egregious,” said Senator Adriano Espaillat, (d) 31st District.

That lawsuit was filed earlier Tuesday morning, in New York State Supreme Court.

The NYCLU is asking that the court declare the exclusion of farm workers, from those rights, unconstitutional. They contend that the exclusion of farm workers from protections, especially the right to organize, violates equal protection and dues process under the state constitution.

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO REGARDING RIGHTS OF FARM WORKERS

“From nail salons to restaurants to the home health care industry, this administration has fought tirelessly to end abusive employment practices and protect the rights of employees. We have moved aggressively against employers who abuse their workers, and held bad actors accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We raised the minimum wage to restore the basic promise of economic justice, and have fought to strengthen worker protections statewide.

“Yet because of a flaw in the state labor relations act, farm workers are not afforded the right to organize without fear of retaliation – which is unacceptable, and appears to violate the New York State Constitution. I agree with the NYCLU that the exclusion of farm workers from the labor relations act is inconsistent with our constitutional principles, and my administration will not be defending the act in court. We will not tolerate the abuse or exploitation of workers in any industry. This clear and undeniable injustice must be corrected.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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