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 John Mills 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 makes 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 Mills 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 Mills said, “As someone who works in the food industry, I know first-hand how this will affect farmers and grocery shoppers. Higher costs and less production will only cause higher grocery prices and make it harder for farms to survive. Food costs are already at record levels, New Yorkers cannot afford regulations that will only make things more expensive in the checkout line.”
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.