Farmworker Bill
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Farmworker Bill


also unanimously passed a bill for an ERA to the state constitution. It would add ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to the New York bill of rights. ((Corina Cappabianca, NYS Capitol Correspondent)) Whether the session ends on schedule or not will likely depend on how lawmakers are Another potential bill awaiting approval would extend certain labor regulations to employees in the agriculture industry. The Farmworker Fair Labor Act would make farmworkers eligible for overtime, mandate periods of rest and allow them to unionize. The New York Farm Bureau and many farmers have come out strongly in opposition to the legislation. They say farming is different from other industries and can’t be regulated the same way. Judi Whittaker of Whittaker Farms in Whitney Point says her dairy operation runs 24/7 365 days a year and a worker strike would shut down the farm jeopardizing the health and lives of her cows. And because the amount she gets paid for her milk is set by the federal government, she can’t simply raise her price to cover her additional labor costs for overtime. She says they would have to cap hours at 40 per week and possibly start charging their workers for the lodging, utilities and cable T-V they currently receive for free. Whittaker says she cares very much for her employees who she says don’t support the proposed changes. Co-Owner of Whittaker Farms Judi Whittaker says, “They want the hours. They have families to feed. They don’t want to be cut because if we have to stop at 40 hours, they’ll be losing hours and losing money. And, a lot of them, that’s not why they have these jobs.” Jim Ehmke says: The progressive organization Fiscal Policy Institute counters that 4 other states have already extended overtime and collective bargaining rights to farmworkers. FPI says the additional wages will boost the local economy as the workers spend their additional money. And, it estimates that the additonal costs to farms would represent only 9 percent of overall farm net income and, if passed on to consumers, When we come back, we’ll take

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