Cuomo signs bill giving protections to farm workers

Cuomo signs bill giving protections to farm workers
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law Wednesday that grants labor protections to farm workers. (Source: WWNY)

NEW YORK (WWNY) - New York is going to give farm workers new rights.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act Wednesday.

"The farm workers bill is not just a great achievement in terms of the effect on the human condition," Cuomo said as he signed the bill into law. "It's also a milestone in the crusade for social justice."

Cuomo says the law will provide protections to farmers that other workers have had for 80 years.

Those protections include unemployment and disability insurance, workers compensation, overtime pay, paid family leave, and at least one day off each week.

Cuomo said "100,000 farm workers will have better lives, their families will have better lives..."

The legislation allows for overtime pay to kick in after 60 hours a week at one-and-a-half-times the normal rate.

Some north country farmers say it's going to increase costs and the law will make it harder to operate a farm.

In a press release from Grow NY Farms, Canton dairy farmer Jon Greenwood said “our farms must operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in order to care for our cows and produce fresh, nutritious milk. We were disappointed in language added in the final hours that has the potential to both negatively impact the long-term viability of our farms and the earning potential and livelihood of our workers.”

Sen. Patty Ritchie voted against the bill in June. Ritchie says in the last five years, New York has lost 2,000 farms and the law will cost farmers more.

In a statement, she said "this new law will saddle farmers with another $300 million in costs. Simply put, they cannot afford it."

The new law goes into effect January 1.

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