Take Action Now to Protect NY Farmworkers from COVID-19

New York's farmworkers are geographically isolated and face extreme challenges in securing food and supplies even in ordinary times. Lack of reliable transportation makes it difficult to seek testing and medical treatment. Some employers are failing to take the necessary measures to protect workers from COVID-19, and even less so on farm labor camps where workers often live in over-crowded and unsanitary conditions.

It's Farmworker Awareness Week! Will you fight for the workers who keep us fed at great risk to themselves? 

Here is what you need to do:

1. Read our letter to Governor Cuomo and the legislature here.

2. Contact Governor Cuomo, your NYS State Senator and Assembly Member today.

3. Tell them to take swift action to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of New York’s farmworkers during the COVID-19 pandemic by: 

  • Developing a coordinated plan to address the unique needs of the agricultural workforce, including accessible know-your-rights materials, free testing in rural communities, and food and clean water. 
  • Requiring agricultural employers to inform workers about their rights to COVID-19-related benefits, like paid sick leave, paid family leave, and temporary disability. 
  • Extending unemployment benefits to H-2A workers affected by COVID-19.
  • Providing direct financial assistance to farmworker families regardless of immigration status.
  • Mandating health and safety protocols specific to COVID-19 for agricultural operations and farm labor camps.

Can you do even more?

We know that we will only get through this by working together. That's why we're asking you support these important campaigns led by some of our key partners! 

  • Sign on to the Food Chain Workers Alliance's petition to Protect Front Line Food Workers during and after the pandemic.
  • Support the NY United Campaign and call on all levels of government to immediately enact common-sense measures to ensure immigrants across the state can remain safe and healthy. Text NYICto 528-86 or go to bit.ly/NYUnited and follow the prompts!
  • Call for the release of people in immigration centers across NY State, including the 500+ people detained in the upstate Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia. Learn more about how to take action here.

Thank you for standing together with workers!


COVID-19 Update from WJCNY

Worker Justice Center of New York believes the health and safety of every worker is paramount.

That’s why we’ve decided to take some precautions. In response to Covid-19, in order to prioritize the safety and health of our team and the workers we serve, WJCNY will be temporarily closing our offices and our staff will be working remotely. We may not be in our office, but we’re not going anywhere. Our staff will continue to fight for worker rights, especially as low wage workers are disproportionately impacted by the virus.

 

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Announcing the Hanna S. Cohn Family Preparedness Clinics

HANNA S. COHN FAMILY PREPAREDNESS CLINICS

Through the support of the Hannah S. Cohn and Samuel A. Cohn Memorial Foundation, Hanna S. Cohn Memorial Fund, and Hanna's extended family, WJCNY is able to provide vital Family Preparedness Clinics to hundreds of working families in western New York. 

The Family Preparedness Clinics were created in response to the immigrant community’s fears that American-born children may end up in the foster care system should a family member or loved one be detained or deported. With fear and risk ever increasing for undocumented families, immigrants need to be legally prepared in case they are targeted.   

This fear isn’t unfounded. According to research by Human Rights Watch, separated children experience sleepless nights, difficulties in concentrating, sudden mood shifts, and constant anxiety, conditions they said began after separation from family members. Separation from caregivers can cause PTSD, anxiety, depression and a lower IQ later in life, among other psychological and physiological problems. 

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Three Kings Celebrations with Community Partners

 

Recap from WJCNY's participation in the Three Kings Holiday Celebrations with our coalition partners, the Western NY Coalition of Farmworker Serving Agencies and community partners, the Mujeres Divinas.

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Corteva, largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, to end production

Just last month, New York State directed the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to ban the pesticide chemical chlorpyrifos from all use by July 2021. Chlorpyrifos is a neurotoxic pesticide used on agricultural products. Numerous studies have linked the use of this toxic chemical to many adverse health effects in children, like impaired brain development. These concerns are elevated for pregnant women who live near farms where chlorpyrifos is sprayed.

This past Thursday, Corteva, the world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, announced that it will stop producing the chemical by the end of 2020. Corteva attributed its decision to the declining sales, however, thousands of environmental and farmworker advocates throughout the nation have worked hard to bring an awareness to government officials and allies of farmworkers concerning the danger of these toxic chemicals.

At the Worker Justice Center of NY, our worker rights advocates conduct outreach to rural communities and educate agricultural workers on their rights to know which chemicals have been used in the fields where they work. Our staff provide workers and their families with the tools to prevent exposure. Our staff also assist workers that choose to file complaints with the DEC, which has oversight of proper labeling, handling and use of pesticides in New York. While we at the WJCNY are excited about this victory, we must recognize there is still much work to lift the voices of farmworkers to stop all production of chlorpyrifos and ban all sales of this known toxic chemical. All our communities deserve to work in a safe environment with dignity and respect.


Green Light Law Takes Effect on Dec.16th

We are proud to have fought and WON access to driver's licenses for all New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. The Driver's License Access & Privacy Act--better known as the Green Light law--takes effect on Monday, December 16th. WJCNY is committed to making sure those we serve are fully informed about the process and understand their newly won rights. We have been working tirelessly with our Green Light NY Coalition partners across the state to ensure smooth implementation of the law and equal access to licenses in every corner of our state.

Check out our toolkits in English and Spanish to find out more about how to apply for a driver's license under New York's Green Light law! 

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Chobani: There is No Farmworker Wellbeing Without Union Rights

Yesterday, Forbes reported on an open letter addressed to Chobani’s Founder and CEO, Hamdi Ulukaya, calling on him to support the right of farmworkers to unionize. Chobani recently announced that it will partner with Fair Trade USA to certify dairy suppliers, including on “Worker Wellbeing.” But we are concerned about Fair Trade USA’s spotty record on respecting workers’ rights to organize after the organization certified a Central American melon farm with a history of union busting and grave worker exploitation. The letter was co-signed by WJCNY along with our partners, the Workers' Center of Central New York, SEIU Local 32BJ, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). Read about it here in Forbes!

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Survivor Services Autumn Update

Survivor Services Autumn Update By Cheryl Gee. 

"WJCNY works with some of the most vulnerable survivors of domestic violence – undocumented workers. For undocumented workers, barriers to leaving abusive relationships include immigration status, fear of deportation for themselves or family members, language access to systems of care, and cultural barriers in close-knit undocumented communities..."

 

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Advocacy Autumn Update

Autumn Update from the Advocacy Department by Emma Kreyche.

Call-to-Action on the harmful pesticide Clorpyrifos by Sara Curtis, Advocacy & Communications Specialist.

"The WJCNY staff and board are beyond overjoyed with two major legislative wins in 2019. The passage of the “Green Light NY” bill permitting access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrant New Yorkers along with the Farm Laborers’ Fair Labor Practices Act were long-overdue victories for NY’s immigrant and farmworker communities. These are historic victories!..."

 

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Anti-Human Trafficking Autumn Update

 

Anti-Human Trafficking Autumn Update by Renan Salgado.

"WJCNY's Anti-Human Trafficking program continues to excel in its role as the leading organization focusing on labor trafficking in the state of New York.  Thus far in 2019, the program has assisted 29 victims of human trafficking. In addition, WJCNY’s expertise on the subject of labor trafficking continues in high demand across the country..."

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