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New York State Department of Labor

New York State Labor Department to Convene Wage Board to Investigate and Make Recommendations
on Overtime Work Threshold for Farm Laborers

Labor Commissioner Reardon to Appoint Wage Board
Recommendations Expected by the End of the Year

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Albany, NY (February 24, 2020) -

New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon today announced she will convene a wage board for farm laborers that will hold hearings, review and make recommendations regarding overtime work for farm laborers in New York State.

Under the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed into law last year, farm laborers are entitled to overtime premium pay starting on January 1, 2020 for any work that they perform in excess of 60 hours per week, and for work performed on their designated day of rest.

As part of that Act, the wage board will consider and make recommendations as to overtime work and, specifically, will hear testimony about reducing the threshold for overtime below 60 hours per week and whether to do so in phases.

“We worked hard to ensure this bill included the proper labor protections and benefits that our farm laborers are entitled to,” said Commissioner Reardon. “We have an opportunity to improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of farmworkers. Overtime is a key component and we need to get it right.”

Convening the Wage Board
As required by the Act, New York State Labor Commissioner Reardon will convene a wage board with the following members:

  • David Fisher, President of the New York Farm Bureau
  • Denis Hughes, former President of the New York State AFL-CIO
  • Brenda McDuffie, President of the Buffalo Urban League

Under the Act, the Wage Board must hold at least three hearings at which the public will be afforded an opportunity to provide comments. The board will hold five hearings in various parts of the state. The Board will carefully consider the input it gathers from farmers and other stakeholders.

The board has until December 31, 2020 to make its recommendations, after which the Commissioner will have 45 days to take administrative action on those recommendations.

Public hearings are scheduled as follows:

  • Friday 2/28 – 11am – Albany – New York State Museum Cultural Education Center, Clark Auditorium, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230
  • Friday 3/13 – 11am – Syracuse – Onondaga Community College, Storer Auditorium, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215
  • Monday 3/23 – 11am – Binghamton – Binghamton University, Symposium Hall, Center of Excellence Building Innovative Technology Complex, 45 Murray Hill Road, Vestal, NY 13850
  • Thursday 4/16 – 11am – Long Island – Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville, NY 11738
  • Thursday 4/23 – 11am – Batavia – Genesee Community College, William Stuart Forum, 1 College Rd., Batavia, NY

All attendees are encouraged to preregister. Those making public comment will be scheduled in the order of registration. Individuals can register at: https://www.labor.ny.gov/farmwageboard.

Building on Past Progress
Governor Cuomo has consistently fought to protect the rights of farm laborers in New York State. On July 17, 2019, the Governor signed the Farm Workers Bill. The legislation established the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act to protect farm worker rights and ensure equitable housing and working conditions. The bill grants farm laborers overtime pay, a day of rest each week, disability and Paid Family Leave coverage, unemployment benefits and other labor protections. The bill took effect on January 1, 2020.

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