I know this is Justice for Farmworkers Day here at our State Capitol, but I am more inclined to agree with Reverend Witt and say that everyday must be "justice for farmworkers day" here in the State of New York.
And I am going to tell you why.
We New Yorkers pride ourselves in being champions of civil rights, champions of workers' rights, champions of social justice.
Yet, some of the hardest working men, women and young people in this state - the unsung heroes of our robust and critically important agricultural economy - still do not have:
The right to collectively bargain;
The right to a day of rest each week;
The right to overtime pay;
The right to unemployment;
The right to workers' compensation;
The right to disability insurance, rights that almost every other New Yorker takes for granted.
In the year 2014, how is it possible, in a state that prides itself on standing up for working people?
Farmworkers are not farm animals. Farmworkers are not second-class citizens, and farm work is not some kind of less valuable work.
Your health and safety matter! Your rights and your ability to provide for your families matter!
What you contribute to our economy and to our quality of life here in New York is important.
Let's be honest about this:
No teacher, no law enforcement officer, no nurse, no construction worker, no journalist, no senator, no assembly member would tolerate this kind of disrespect or this kind of treatment.
Almost exactly a year ago, May 13th of 2013, the Assembly Majority - led by the former chair of our Labor Committee, and longtime advocate for farmworkers' rights, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan - passed the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, which you helped us craft.
We have been passing this legislation for almost a decade and let's be very clear, we are not proposing to give farmworkers anything more than rights that every other worker enjoys.
As this legislative session winds down, together we must convince our colleagues in the Senate to embrace our legislation and put an end to farmworker injustice once and for all.
It's time for New Yorkers to live up to our legacy. It's time for New Yorkers to stand up for farmworkers. Thank you very much.