ALBANY, N.Y. Both houses in the New York State Legislature have passed the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act which will apply to horse farm workers.

S.6578, sponsored by Senator Jessica Ramos, grants collective bargaining rights, workers’ compensation, and unemployment benefits to farm laborers.  It addresses the standards of working conditions and includes a measure to require overtime pay. The Fair Labor Practices Act also provides unemployment insurance, 24 consecutive hours of rest each week, and a sanitary code for all farm and food processing labor camps intended to house farm laborers.

“The agriculture industry is crucial to New York’s economy and workforce. Today we are standing up for farm laborers and giving them the rights that they deserve while continuing to work with the agriculture industry to help them be successful,” Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said after the Senate passed the bill in mid-June. “I applaud Senator Ramos for championing this bill and working to build a stronger, and fairer, agriculture industry across New York State.”

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Senator Ramos said, “The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act has lingered in this body for 20 years, with seven sponsors on both sides of the aisle. I am proud today to be the eight and last sponsor of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act. I have traveled to seven counties in New York, visited 14 farms, talked to countless farmworkers, and held three hearings on this bill. There are 80-100,000 farmworkers that are the backbone of New York’s multi-billion dollar agricultural industry. Today we are correcting a historic injustice, a remnant of Jim Crow era laws, to affirm that those farmworkers must be granted rights just as any other worker in New York.”

The bill had not been signed by the governor as of July 2.

The new regulations are set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2020 but Richard Stup, of Cornell University wrote for Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development:that changes are still possible. Meanwhile business employers should start preparing now.  See http://agworkforce.cals.cornell.edu/2019/07/02/dramatic-changes-for-farm-labor-management-in-new-york/?fbclid=IwAR2mCo4C1oqPHeWPqRLOrYCqypJmysE9IgCeDzCEt-Iy8gQv4wiomXgiuAw

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