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NY Farm Trade Groups Sue to Block State Labor Law

January 6, 2020

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Two farmers’ trade associations filed a lawsuit in federal court in Buffalo Dec. 30 to stop New York State’s new farm-labor law from going into effect Jan. 1. The Northeast Dairy Producers Association and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association argue that the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act is unclear about who qualifies as a “farm laborer.” It contends that the bill includes supervisors and owners’ family members as laborers, who are part of management and can’t legally bargain collectively. “We are asking for a pause to allow necessary changes to be made,” John Dickinson, co-owner of Ideal Dairy in Hudson Falls, told the Lockport Journal. He said farmers want to abide by the law, but its “unclear and conflicting definitions” are a problem. U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo reserved judgment after hearing arguments. The law guarantees agricultural employees one day of rest per week and overtime pay after working more than 60 hours. “Farmworkers are finally getting basic labor rights including the right to organize a union, a mandatory day of rest, and the right to overtime pay,” state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento said in a statement issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. Read more

January 6, 2020

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