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.
If adopted, the phase-in schedule will begin on January 1, 2024 with reductions of four hours on a biannual basis, as follows:
January 1, 2024 - 56 hours
January 1, 2026 - 52 hours
January 1, 2028 - 48 hours
January 1, 2030 - 44 hours
January 1, 2032 - 40 hours
The Wage Board was convened following the 2019 enactment of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act (FPLA), a major victory for the farmworker movement in New York State. The FLPA not only established the right to overtime pay for farmworkers, it also granted the right to collective bargaining protections and a day of rest, among other basic labor rights. We want to acknowledge the decades of grassroots organizing that led us to this point and celebrate the farmworkers who bravely spoke out during Wage Board hearings over the past two years.
All wage board hearings were recorded in English and Spanish and are available to view on the Farm Laborers Wage Board Hearing website, along with minutes from the proceedings. This issue has also been covered widely in the media. Here are some highlights of that coverage:
Newsday - Farm workers pay: NYers deserve fair overtime
NY Daily News - Harvest of fairness: Overtime equity may finally be coming to N.Y. farmworkers
Associated Press - Farmers alarmed as New York state looks at expanded overtime for workers
Times Union - Farm Laborer Wage Board decides to lower OT threshold to 40 hours
WXXI News - NY looks at expanded overtime for farm workers
Syracuse Post Standard - NY farmworkers deserve fair overtime pay