Farm workers and advocates call on legislature to require basic labor protections

Posted at: 05/13/2013 5:17 PM | Updated at: 05/13/2013 6:04 PM
By: Bill Lambdin

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ALBANY - Standing Monday in an Assembly meeting room, the president of the New York State AFL-CIO said "as a human being, just as a human being, I'm embarrassed as a citizen of this state that we all have to actually stand here today."

For roughly a decade the Assembly has been passing a form of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, only to see the State Senate plow it under like some failed crop.

"It is outrageous and utterly disgraceful that farm workers must still fight this fight," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D - Manhattan).

Whether this year proves any different remains to be seen. The Speaker pulled on heartstrings, presenting a farm worker who told of abuse. 

"I have been abused in so many ways," said the woman, who began crying at the podium. "I don't think it is fair."

But outside waited a Farm Bureau representative, who argued dollars and cents as well as crop deadlines.

"It is a seasonal work environment and it's just not appropriate to put a factory-style labor mandate that is good for producing widgets on farms which need to produce food," said Julie Suarez. 


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