Assemblyman Bill Reilich (R,C,I-Greece) today voted against the “Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act” because it will create an overwhelming financial burden for small farmers, potentially forcing them out of business. The act will establish labor provisions creating a financial burden on local farmers leading to the closure of many small farms.
“The farm industry does not operate on a nine-to-five schedule. Weather conditions and the short season of growth in our state require intense periods of long work hours in order to maintain the livelihood of our local farms. Since many small farms are already fighting to stay afloat, this will make it more difficult to survive. These farm workers want to be here, they want to be able to work and these provisions may take that opportunity away if these farms are forced to close their doors,” stated Reilich.
The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act creates a major overhaul in both labor and compensation laws of farm workers. It requires regular work hours to be based on eight-hour days, not 40-hour weeks, with all additional hours paid time-and-a-half. The new act also will require farmers to provide “days off” to workers, although they can choose to refuse them, as well as requiring small farms to pay compensation and disability leave even to workers only employed during the short span of the growing season.
“There are still too many outstanding questions on this legislation. Agriculture is one of the largest industries in New York state and imposing these financial burdens on our farmers, who are already struggling to make ends meet, is only going to create a situation in which farms leave our state permanently,” stated Reilich.