Bi-national People's Tribunal on the Struggles of Farmworkers in North America

On Friday, March 29th through Sunday, March 31st, WJCNY will be participating in the Bi-national People's Tribunal on the Struggles of Farmworkers in North America, hosted by the Food Chain Workers Alliance at the People's Forum in New York City. This tribunal is a grassroots gathering of farmworker organizations from across the US and Canada that will feature worker testimonies foscused on three priority areas: health & safety, freedom of movement, and climate justice. Register to participate in person or virtually via Zoom, or watch the live stream on YouTube


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A Message to Our Community

The Worker Justice Center of New York announces the departure of Diana Saguilan, interim executive director and long time staff member, effective June 15, 2023. With her departure, former executive director, Lew Papenfuse, has agreed to return to the WJCNY to help lay the ground for a leadership transition.

Diana Saguilan served the WJCNY, its clients and our community for 18 years. “Diana embodies the best of who we are and what we seek to do,” said Peter Rosenblum, Board Chair. “She set a standard for leadership and commitment that will be hard to match.”  At the WJCNY and its predecessor organization, Diana served as everything from receptionist and outreach worker to paralegal and financial administrator. When the last executive director left the WJCNY in October 2020, Diana agreed to serve, first, as co-executive director and then as director for an interim period. She entered into the role of executive director during an extraordinarily difficult time marked by the COVID pandemic, financial uncertainty and the unsettling political climate. In the face of this, she successfully implemented significant programs to improve management while supporting the organization in visible and unseen ways. “The pandemic, economic inflation, large migrations, and climate changes continue to put essential workers at risk,” Diana said. “WJCNY is critical to representing, advocating, and keeping New York State’s essential workers informed of their rights.”

Lew Papenfuse, who was ED of the WJCNY until 2018, has agreed to return as interim executive director for a limited period in order to ensure that WJCNY continues to operate at the highest level while laying the ground work for a transition to a new Executive Director. “I add my deep appreciation for Diana,” Lew said. “She embodied the mission of the organization and will not be forgotten.” Lew spent nearly three decades with the WJCNY and its predecessor organization, Farmworker Legal Service of NY. “There is no one better positioned to guide the WJCNY at this critical time,” said Sandy Oxford, a longtime board member and labor activist in the community, “he knows our partners and the community we serve. He has our full support.”  Looking to the future, Lew expressed confidence in the management, staff and board. “I am confident,” he said, “that the organization will continue to thrive and provide the quality of representation that has been our trademark for over 40 years.”  

With Lew's leadership, the Board will take immediate steps towards the next steps in the transition. We will be reaching out to partners and supporters in the next weeks. We appreciate the continued support of our community during this transition. 

The Board of Directors

Worker Justice Center of New York

Peter Rosenblum, Board Chair

WJCNY 2021 Reporte Anual

¡Lea Nuestro Informe Anual de 2021!

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WJCNY Annual Report 2021

Read our Annual Report for 2021!

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WJCNY Honors 15 Years of the Bandana Project

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month, and in partnership with Justice for Migrant Women, the Worker Justice Center of New York is honoring and uplifting the 15th Anniversary of the Bandana Project this month, to raise awareness of sexual violence against farmworker women and girls. 

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Wage Board recommends 40-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers

On Friday, January 28th, the Farm Laborers Wage Board voted 2-1 to recommend establishing a 40-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers in New York State, to be phased in over a 10-year phase-in period. The recommendation follows two years of virtual hearings during which members of the Wage Board heard from farmworkers, employers, agribusiness representatives, and advocates about the impacts of lowering the overtime threshold, which is currently set at 60 hours/week for agricultural employees.

The Board's recommendation will now go to NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, who will issue a final decision in the coming weeks. WJCNY applauds the Wage Board's recommendation and urges Commissioner Reardon to adopt the proposed phase-in plan. Please join us in urging Commissioner Reardon and Governor Hochul to establish a 40-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers by signing on this petition created by our partners at the New York Civil Liberties Union. 

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National Human Trafficking Awareness Month


The United States was built on the trafficking of humans. While this history is one our nation continues to grapple with, human trafficking remains a prolific and subversive part of our economy.  

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Asistencia con la Solicitud para el Fondo de Trabajadores Excluidos

[English Below]

¡Nueva York ha creado el Fondo para Trabajadores Excluidos de $2.1 billiones! Este fondo brindará asistencia financiera directa a los trabajadores que no sean elegibles para los beneficios estatales de desempleo o el alivio de ingresos federal relacionado con COVID-19. 

WJCNY ofrece asistencia con la solicitud del Fondo para Trabajadores Excluidos. Nuestro equipo está disponible para brindar asistencia con la solicitud. Le ayudaremos a determinar su elegibilidad, juntar los documentos necesarios y presentar su solicitud en línea.

Llámenos al 1-800-724-7020 ext. 2007 para más información. 

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New York’s Essential Farmworkers Continue to Struggle for Equity


By Diana Saguilan 

After a year of sacrifice and loss, New York State
 (NYS) failed to include farmworkers and food processing workers as essential to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in its initial roll out. Throughout the pandemic, access to basic goods like vegetables, fruits, dairy, and poultry have been important to every community in the state. For this simple reason, farmworkers and food processing workers were and continue to be essential to our state’s economy. Our communities have worked endlessly to ensure food distribution warehouses, grocery stores, and food banks have enough food to keep New Yorkers nourished. After all, every human must eat to stay alive. Yet, when the vaccine became available farmworkers and food processing workers were not listed in the Phase 1B category along with other essential workers - seemingly nobody knows why.  

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International Workers' Day & the State of the American Labor Movement


By Kevin Curtin

International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day, is a day 
to honor the historic struggles and gains made by workers and the labor movement, observed in most countries on May 1. Contrary to popular belief, International Workers’ Day began in the United States in the late 19th century to commemorate the struggle for an 8-hour workday and better working conditions. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, thousands of men, women and children died every year from inhumane working conditions and long hours. To try to abolish these horrific working conditions, the Federation of Organized Trades & Labor Unions (later the American Federation of Labor or AFL) held a convention in Chicago in 1884 to demand an 8-hour legal workday in the United States by May 1, 1886.

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