NY court affirms farmworkers’ right to organize

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled that farmworkers across the state have the right to organize and bargain collectively.

The decision was affirmed by a 4-1 majority decision.

Represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), plaintiffs—a farmworker named Crispin Hernandez and two organizations devoted to protecting farmworkers’ rights, Workers’ Center of Central New York (WCCNY) and Worker Justice Center of New York (WJCNY)—brought this lawsuit in Albany County Supreme Court in May 2016, challenging the constitutionality of the State Employment Relations Act (SERA)’s exclusion of farmworkers.

According to the governor’s office, the complaint alleged that Mr. Hernandez’s employer, Marks Farm LLC, terminated his employment in retaliation for exercising his constitutional right to organize by meeting with coworkers and advocates from WCCNY and WJCNY to discuss dangerous working conditions on the farm.

Since the SERA excludes farmworkers, Mr. Hernandez was left with no protection under the law. 

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