In New York, a group of farmworkers and their allies are working to pass a new state law that would grant farmworkers the same workplace rights and protections as workers in other industries.
Although the majority of workers in non-agricultural industries have, for example, the right to organize a union and to receive “time and a half” pay for overtime (under both federal and state law), the laws that grant these rights exclude agricultural workers. For this reason, New York farmworkers are pressuring their state representatives to approve a new law that would give them many of these same labor rights.
For farmworkers in the state of New York, the proposed law includes the following rights:
Organize a union and bargain collectively
"Time and a half” pay when one works more than 8 hours in a day
One rest day per week (which workers could decline)
Unemployment benefits if one loses his or her job, and disability benefits when one cannot work because of an illness or injury
Workers’ compensation benefits for work-related accidents or illnesses, and protection against retaliation for requesting compensation
A guarantee that any employer-provided housing is safe and meets basic standards of access to clean water, light, ventilation, and adequate bathrooms
"Congress has denied farmworkers basic labor protections for decades. Lawmakers in New York have an opportunity to do the right thing and extend basic workplace protections to the women, men, and children who feed us,” said Mónica Ramirez, co-founder of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas in a publication by the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). According to Ramirez and all the people who have worked to get this law passed, this law would be a breakthrough and huge step forward for agricultural workers in New York.
If you want to know more about this campaign, visit Justice for Farmworkers on their website or Facebook page.
Remember that if you have an H-2A visa, regardless of what state you work in, you have the right to workers' compensation benefits and free and safe housing.