Erie County, N.Y. –A resolution calling on the New York State Labor Commissioner to stand with the farming community and reject new overtime rules passed the Erie County Legislature Thursday afternoon by a vote of 6-5.
The Farm Laborers Wage Board recently recommended requiring farm owners to pay workers overtime after they work 40 hours instead of 60, which is where the threshold is currently set. The resolution introduced by Legislator Greene and members of the Minority Caucus notes that the nature of the agriculture industry and short growing season make it nearly impossible to cap hours. Members of the Minority Caucus also met with members of the Erie County Farm Bureau, who stressed that this will put family farms out of business and increase the cost of goods statewide. New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon has until October 21 to make a decision.
Legislator Greene said, “By passing this resolution, we are letting Albany know that Erie County does not support this overtime policy and that we stand with the agriculture industry. Seeing record prices at the grocery stores should be enough for any lawmaker to reject a proposal that will directly raise the costs of farming. I hope the Governor will understand what this policy will do to the farming industry and reject it.”
Jeff Simons, member of the Erie County Farm Bureau said, “The wage board's decision to lower the overtime threshold from 60 hours down to 40 over the next ten years will ultimately hurt the ones it was designed to help. Agriculture producers are price takers, not price makers. Better than 70% of the testimony given during the hearings over the last two years was in favor of leaving it at 60. Workers have already stated they will leave New York for states where they can get more hours and less food will be produced locally driving up food costs to us all."
A copy of the resolution can be viewed here.