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 Mills 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 Mills said, “Passing this resolution through the Erie County Legislature should be a message to Albany that they’re out of touch with the agricultural industry. I’m glad some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle understand how detrimental this policy will be for farming and I hope the Governor takes note. We need to do what we can to make food more affordable rather than hindering those who produce 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.