State Senators Tom O’Mara, Pam Helming and their GOP colleagues are urging the state Farm Laborers Wage Board not to lower the threshold for farm workers to receive overtime from 60 to 40 hours per week.
Under the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act signed into law in 2019, farm laborers in the state became entitled to overtime pay for the first time. The law included the creation of a board that is authorized to change the threshold without legislative approval. The board is scheduled to hold virtual Zoom hearings on lowering the threshold beginning next Tuesday. In the letter released this week, the Republican conference says ‘“The long lasting effects of the FLFPA are not just seen and heard through anecdotal stories we hear when we visit farms in our districts, but are supported by a recent state-funded report issued by researchers at Cornell University. The study found that if the overtime threshold was lowered to 40 hours, two-thirds of dairy farmers would make significant changes to their operation, including leaving the industry or investing out of state, and half of fruit and vegetable farmers indicated they would decrease their operations or exit the industry.”
O’Mara currently co-sponsors legislation (S2690) that would extend the date for the Board to submit its final report to December 31, 2024. The legislation would give the Board more time to collect and assess data that would provide a more definitive picture of the impact of the 60-hour threshold on the finances and operations of New York farms, as well as consider additional factors including the COVID-19 impact on the agricultural industry.
Read the full letter below: