Willsboro, NY, Jun 19, 2009 — One of the bills tangled up in the NY Senate meltdown is a controversial measure that would give far more legal rights to New York farm workers. Senator Pedro Espada has been pushing the bill, which would allow farm laborers to unionize more easily. It would also guarantee workers at least one day of rest each week and provide for overtime pay. The bill has strong backing from a variety of labor, immigrant and religious groups, including New York's State Catholic Conference.
But the Farm Bureau and most of the North Country's Albany delegation opposes the bill. In a statement released this week, Democratic state Senator Darrel Aubertine said the bill would force many farms to close down. "I thought we had put this bill behind us for this session," Aubertine wrote, "but now Senator Espada has listed it among his priorities."
We checked in with another lawmaker who opposes the bill. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward is a Republican and a former dairy farmer from Willsboro. Sayward told Brian Mann that Federal agriculture laws already provide farm workers with enough protections. She called the rules in this proposed law unrealistic.