Resolution calls on Labor Commissioner to reject ruling that would require farm owners to pay workers overtime after 40 hours
Erie County, N.Y. -- Erie County Legislator Joe Lorigo has introduced a resolution pushing back on the Farm Laborers Wage Board recommendation that would require farm workers to receive overtime pay after 40 hours, noting that the nature of the agriculture industry and short growing season make it nearly impossible to cap hours on a permanent basis.
Both farmers and workers have been critical of the recommendation since it was first proposed. Legislator Lorigo recently met with the Erie County Farm Bureau, whose representatives have indicated this will irreversibly damage the agriculture industry and drive up the cost of goods. Additionally, many farm workers are likely to seek employment outside of New York State if their hours are capped.
Legislator Lorigo said, “This new rule is going to be the nail in the coffin for an industry that’s already struggling. Family farms will no longer be able to operate, workers will leave New York State to find better opportunities, and taxpayers will end up spending more at the grocery store as the cost of food inevitably increases. This recommendation must be rejected.”
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."
New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon has until October 21 to make a final decision on the wage board’s recommendation.
A copy of the resolution is attached.