ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — Lawmakers and advocates asking the Governor to not move forward with changing farm workers overtime threshold. Back in January, New York’s Farm Laborer’s Wage Board determined that the overtime threshold for farm workers should be lowered from 60 to 40 hours a week, but some are opposing this.
Ashley Ranslow is New York’s Director for the National Federation of Independent Business, she says this would be too costly for farmers who are already experiencing financial stress, “Out of control inflation, record high gas prices, labor shortages, supply chains, everything is really taking its toll on the economy on small businesses on small farms. We can’t have this happen, it would just threaten the livelihood of their success and their survival going forward.”
Ranslow says in the farming industry, employees do not work your typical 40 hour work week, “They have seasons, growing seasons, planting seasons, seasons where they have to then pick all the vegetables or fruits or what have you and that requires more than 40 hours worth of work.”
Senator George Borrello is a ranking member of the agriculture committee. He says agriculture is New York’s number one industry and the possible threshold change could be costly, “The most harmful thing to agriculture in New York state, it isn’t the weather, it isn’t the price of commodities, it’s bad policy out of the New York State legislature and out of Governor Hochul.”
Borrello says the Department of Labor issued Cornell University to conduct a study surveying service workers. He says 70% of them said if the threshold is lowered to 40 hours they would not return to New York State. “They want to work as many hours as they can. That’s why they’re here. To provide for their families back home. You know I have friends of mine that are farmers. They have the same guest workers that have been coming for 20 years or more. You know, these are not day laborers, migrant workers that show up one year and not the next. These are people that are considered family,” said Borrello.
The New York Farmers Wage Board is made up of three members. The board is set to reconvene Sept. 6 to make a final vote on the matter.