Hawley Opposes Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill

A Legislative Column from Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R, I, C – Batavia)

As a former hog and crop farmer and Genesee County Farm Bureau President and a current member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, I work very hard to ensure that our farms, agriculturalists and rural quality of life are protected. Newly introduced legislation, Assembly Bill 1867, seriously threatens our farmers and farm workers and I would like to take a moment to share with the public the provisions of this bill.

I have already received many letters, calls and e-mails from residents of the 139th Assembly District expressing their opposition to this bill, which is known as the Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill. While this legislation attempts to establish benefits and bargaining rights for farm workers, the bill threatens the very existence of farm work by imposing expensive labor mandates which will force more farms, many of which are struggling in this tough economy, to go out of business.

To explicitly outline our concerns with this legislation, the entire Assembly Agriculture Committee and I drafted, signed and sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Paramount among our concerns is the fact that for the last 30 years, both state and federal laws have been strengthened to protect farmworkers from injustices and unfair treatment, with most farms undergoing a review or inspection on an annual basis. Any problems that occur on farms are quickly caught by the authorities, making this new legislation redundant and an unnecessary expense to place on farmers and our agricultural community as a whole.

I urge all members of the public to write Speaker Silver as well as the legislation’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, to express your concerns with this measure. You can write to Speaker Silver at LOB 932, Albany, NY 12248 or e-mail him at speaker@assembly.state.ny.us; or contact Assemblywoman Nolan at LOB 836, Albany, NY 12248 or e-mail her at nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us to express your opposition to this bill.