New York Daily News : 2019-02-11
EDITORIAL : 23 : 23
23 DAILY NEWS Monday, February 11, 2019 NYDailyNews.com BRAMHALL’S WORLD E fix the loophole in the labor law through legislation without waiting for the courts to strike the law down.
The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act would give farmworkers the same rights as almost all other workers in New York. It would give them the right to collective bargaining without the risk of being fired, at least one day per week of rest, and overtime pay.
This legislation would do a lot to end the pervasive climate of fear, intimidation and retaliation that exists on farms today. It would also make farmworkers’ lives safer.
All workers deserve to have a voice and be heard at their place of work. It is time to finally treat farmworkers with respect and dignity and to recognize that farmworker rights are human rights.
I am doing what I can to fight for farmworkers and I invite the governor, the Legislature and the public to join me. try to organize for better, safer working conditions. I was fired from that employer, one of New York’s largest dairies, in 2015 after my boss saw me meeting with co-workers and human rights organizers to discuss workplace conditions. The meeting was after work hours, but it didn’t matter to them.
If I had been working in virtually any other industry, the law would have protected me from that kind of retaliation. But farmworkers, because of racist and outdated laws, are excluded from this and other important labor protections.
Soon after we filed our lawsuit, the Cuomo administration said that they agree that the legal exclusion of farmworkers from this labor law violates the state Constitution. Since then, the administration has refused to defend the law in court. While I appreciate that the governor sees the injustice of this law, I believe he must do more.
He, along with state lawmakers, can very day, New York farmworkers are up early in the morning until late at night, working to put food on our tables and feed families across our state and around the world.
They work 12-hour days, sometimes seven days a week year-round, in rain, snow or shine to provide for their families. They risk injury and even their lives. They work with toxic chemicals and operate vehicles and machinery without the training they need to safely do so.
They are some of the lowest-paid and most disrespected workers. But despite their important contributions to the economy, New York has not done much to improve their difficult situation.
Farmworkers are in this situation because, unlike other New Yorkers, the state does not give them the same basic protections that nearly all other workers enjoy. They live in fear of reprisals and intimidation and experience stress, anxiety and loneliness every day. The stress and exhaustion from the work builds up and can make them mentally and physically sick. BE OUR GUEST I am a worker rights advocate and a former farmworker, and I am taking the fight to the courts and the Legislature to ensure farmworkers receive the justice and treatment they deserve.
I brought a lawsuit in 2016 with the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, represented by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Today, a state appellate court in Albany will hear our argument, that the state unfairly denies farmworkers the right to organize without retaliation, which we say violates the state Constitution.
I worked for more than three grueling years as a milker at Marks Farms in Loweville, N.Y. I worked 12-hour shifts, six days a week. The work was so physically demanding that I often went the entire shift without taking a single break for water or to use the bathroom.
I know from personal experience what can happen when farmworkers Give farmworkers the labor rights they deserve Hernandez is an organizer at the Workers’ Center of Central New York.
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