article
June 01, 2016

Support grows for farm worker rights bill

Author: Missy Smith
Source: NYSUT Communications
Farmworkers March
Caption: Photo by Michael Flemming.

 

Farmworker rights activist Librada Paz, a past NYSUT Hispanic Heritage Poster honoree, led activists in a chant of “Si, se puede” — “Yes, we can!” — with her young son Axel in her arms, and encouraged activists to keep up the fight until fairness for farmworkers is achieved.  

The scene was the state Capitol, where more than 100 activists rallied today at the culmination of a two-week march from Long Island to Albany to raise awareness of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practice Act, a bill that would give farmworkers parity with other New York State workers. The event was organized by the Rural and Migrant Ministry, and supported by a wide range of community allies and labor organizations. 

“This is your house and we need to change the laws so that they respect the rights of all workers, including farmworkers,” said NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, who addressed activists gathered on the lawn outside the Capitol. “Farmworkers deserve to be treated with the same dignity, justice and fairness as other workers in this state.”

NYSUT Secretary Treasurer Martin Messner and Alan Lubin, NYSUT executive vice president emeritus, were also on hand for the event. New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento told farmworkers on the march, “You are not alone — your 2.5 million brothers and sisters in labor are with you until this legislation becomes a reality.”

Farmworkers lack basic workplace rights, including overtime pay, sick days, the right to collectively bargain, an eight-hour workday and a designated day off. The Farm workers Fair Labor Practice Act, sponsored by Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, would provide workplace parity.