NY farm workers should get OT after 40-hour work week, says board

Farm worker
Farm worker(WWNY)
Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:58 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - Farm workers may soon be getting paid overtime after working 40 hours a week.

The New York Farm Laborers Wage Board voted 2 to 1 in favor of the proposal to lower the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours a week.

Board Chair Brenda McDuffie and member Denis Hughes voted in favor, while local dairy farmer and state farm bureau president David Fisher voted against the move.

If the proposal is approved by state officials, the threshold will be lowered and phased in over 10 years starting in 2024.

According to the board’s report, reasons for the change include impacts on human health and well-being, the issue of equitable labor practices, and new tax credits that will assist farmers in the transition.

“We believe that this decision protects the right of farm laborers while taking into account the needs of farmers,” said McDuffie.

Some farmers in the north country don’t agree with the changes.

Mike Kiechle, a farmer in the town of Philadelphia says that in the current labor market, people should be doing everything they can to recruit and retain current employees. But, once this change is rolled out, he believes it’s going to hurt New York farmers when prospective workers compare rates across neighboring states.

“They only think that it’s unfair for the worker. I’d like to say that if the worker is unhappy, there are other things in this job besides money that some of my workers like and so the state is forcing me to go one size fits all,” said Kiechle.

State’s Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon will now have 45 days to review the report and recommendations and make a decision.