New OT Threshold for Farm Workers Criticized
A group of New York State Assembly Democrats criticized the New York State Department of Labor's order to lower the overtime hours for farm employees from 60 to 40. The decision, official last week, comes after recommendations from the Farm Laborers Wage Board.
The recommendations, and decision, were met with pushback from various associations including the New York Farm Bureau and The Business Council of New York State.
Earlier this year Business Council President & CEO, Heather Briccetti Mulligan said, "The Business Council, while supporting the state’s farming industry, has concerns about lowering the overtime threshold as it would have a negative impact on farms, their workers, production, and ultimately consumers."
"Our family farms are some of the most rigorously regulated and inspected employers in New York State through the strong workforce protections in place at both the state and federal levels. Given the unique work schedule of farms, we urge the Hochul administration to take a long and hard look at the Wage Board's recommendation and the consequences that will be felt by New York families, farms, and the economy if the threshold is lowered."
New York Farm Bureau President, David Fisher, said called the decision "a difficult day for all those who care about New York being able to feed itself."
"Commissioner Reardon’s decision to lower the farm labor overtime threshold will make it even tougher to farm in this state and will be a financial blow to the workers we all support," said Fisher via a press release. "Moving forward, farms will be forced to make difficult decisions on what they grow, the available hours they can provide to their employees, and their ability to compete in the marketplace. All of this was highlighted in the testimony and data that the wage board report and the commissioner simply ignored.”
Assemblymember Carrie Woerner (D-57), said during a Tuesday press event that farmers can not control many factors including the rising costs of commodity prices that are set nationally.
"The impact of rising feed costs, rising fertilizer costs, rising energy costs, rising fuel costs, are driving up the cost of operating a farm," Woerner said.
Proponents of the threshold decrease say it's been unfair for agriculture workers to be left out of a nearly 100-year-old labor law that allows other workers overtime after 40 hours.
The overtime change is expected to be covered by a subsidized tax credit from New York State, taking effect over the next 10 years.