The Perkins Report (5/12/09) - The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices

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Senator Perkins interviews two farm workers from Western New York, with their translators, to ask them about the recently introduced bill known as the Farmworers Fair Labor Practice Act (S.2247)


                          STATE OF NEW YORK
                               2009-2010 Regular Sessions
                                       IN SENATE
                                    February 13, 2009
        AN  ACT  to  amend  the  labor  law,  in relation to granting collective
          bargaining rights to farm laborers and allowing farm workers  one  day
          of  rest  each  week and including farm laborers within the provisions
          pertaining to overtime compensation  and  unemployment  insurance;  to
          amend  the  public  health  law, in relation to the application of the
          sanitary code to all farm and food processing labor camps for  migrant
          workers;  to  amend  the workers' compensation law, in relation to the
          eligibility of farm laborers for workers'  compensation  benefits  and
          the provision of claim forms to farm laborers injured in the course of
          employment  and  in relation to service as farm laborers; and to amend
          the labor law, in relation to labor  on  a  farm  and  regulating  the
          employment  of certain employees whose earning capacity is affected or
          impaired by youth or age
          The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and  Assem-
        bly, do enact as follows:
     1    Section  1.  Sections one through seventeen of this act shall be known
     2  and may be cited as "The Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act".
     3    § 2. Paragraph (a) of subdivision 3 of section 701 of the  labor  law,
     4  as  amended  by  chapter  43  of the laws of 1989, is amended to read as
     5  follows:
     6    (a) The term "employees" includes but is not restricted to  any  indi-
     7  vidual employed by a labor organization; any individual whose employment
     8  has ceased as a consequence of, or in connection with, any current labor
     9  dispute  or  because  of  any  unfair  labor  practice,  and who has not
    10  obtained any other regular and substantially equivalent employment;  and
    11  shall  not  be limited to the employees of a particular employer, unless
    12  the article explicitly states otherwise, but shall not include any indi-
    13  vidual employed by his parent or spouse or in the  domestic  service  of
         EXPLANATION--Matter in italics (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                              [ ] is old law to be omitted.

        S. 2247                             2
     1  and  directly  employed,  controlled and paid by any person in his home,
     2  any individual whose primary responsibility is the care of a minor child
     3  or children and/or someone who lives in the home of  a  person  for  the
     4  purpose  of  serving  as  a companion to a sick, convalescing or elderly
     5  person or any individuals employed only for  the  duration  of  a  labor
     6  dispute,  [or any individuals employed as farm laborers] or[,] any indi-
     7  vidual who participates in and receives  rehabilitative  or  therapeutic
     8  services in a charitable non-profit rehabilitation facility or sheltered
     9  workshop or any individual employed in a charitable non-profit rehabili-
    10  tation facility or sheltered workshop who has received rehabilitative or
    11  therapeutic services and whose capacity to perform the work for which he
    12  is engaged is substantially impaired by physical or mental deficiency or
    13  injury.
    14    §  3.  Subdivision  1  of  section  161 of the labor law is amended by
    15  adding a new undesignated paragraph to read as follows:
    16    Every person employed as a farm laborer  shall  be  allowed  at  least
    17  twenty-four  consecutive  hours of rest in each and every calendar week.
    18  This requirement shall not apply to the parent, child, spouse  or  other
    19  member of the employer's immediate family. Twenty-four consecutive hours
    20  spent  at  rest because of circumstances, such as weather or crop condi-
    21  tions, shall be deemed to constitute the rest  required  by  this  para-
    22  graph. No provision of this paragraph shall prohibit a farm laborer from
    23  voluntarily  refusing  the  rest  required by this paragraph.   The term
    24  "farm labor"  shall  include  all  services  performed  in  agricultural
    25  employment  in  connection  with  cultivating the soil, or in connection
    26  with raising or harvesting of agricultural  commodities,  including  the
    27  raising,  shearing,  caring  for and management of livestock, poultry or
    28  dairy.  The day of rest authorized under this subdivision should,  when-
    29  ever  possible,  coincide  with the traditional day reserved by the farm
    30  laborer for religious worship.
    31    § 4. Paragraphs b and d of subdivision 2 of section 161 of  the  labor
    32  law,  as amended by chapter 281 of the laws of 1941, are amended to read
    33  as follows:
    34    b. Employees in [dairies, creameries,] milk condenseries, milk  powder
    35  factories,  milk  sugar  factories,  milk  shipping stations, butter and
    36  cheese factories, ice  cream  manufacturing  plants  and  milk  bottling
    37  plants, where not more than seven persons are employed;
    38    d.  Employees  whose duties include not more than three hours' work on
    39  Sunday in setting sponges in bakeries, [caring for live animals,]  main-
    40  taining fires, or making necessary repairs to boilers or machinery.
    41    §  5. Subdivision 3 of section 160 of the labor law is amended to read
    42  as follows:
    43    3. For all other employees, except those engaged in [farm or] domestic
    44  service and those affected by subdivision four of  section  two  hundred
    45  [and] twenty of this chapter, eight hours.
    46    §  6. Subdivision 1 of section 220 of the labor law is amended to read
    47  as follows:
    48    1. Eight hours shall constitute a legal day's work for all classes  of
    49  employees  in  this  state  except  those engaged in [farm and] domestic
    50  service unless otherwise provided by law.
    51    § 7. The labor law is amended by adding a new section 163-a to read as
    52  follows:
    53    § 163-a. Farm laborers. No person  or  corporation  operating  a  farm
    54  shall  require  any  employee  to work more than eight hours in any day;
    55  provided, however, that overtime work performed by a farm laborer  shall

        S. 2247                             3
     1  be  at  a  rate  which  is  at least one and one-half times the worker's
     2  normal wage rate.
     3    §  8.  The  opening  paragraph  of  paragraph  (a) of subdivision 6 of
     4  section 511 of the labor law, as amended by chapter 675 of the  laws  of
     5  1977, is amended to read as follows:
     6    The  term  "employment" [does not include] includes agricultural labor
     7  [unless it is covered pursuant to section five hundred sixty-four].  The
     8  term "agricultural labor" includes all service performed:
     9    § 9. Section 564 of the labor law, as added by chapter 675 of the laws
    10  of 1977, is amended to read as follows:
    11    §  564.  Agricultural  labor crew leaders.  [1. Coverage. (a) Notwith-
    12  standing the provisions of section five hundred sixty of  this  article,
    13  an employer of persons engaged in agricultural labor shall become liable
    14  for contributions under this article if the employer:
    15    (1)  has  paid cash remuneration of twenty thousand dollars or more in
    16  any calendar quarter to persons employed in agricultural labor, and such
    17  liability shall commence on the first day of such quarter, or
    18    (2) has employed in agricultural labor ten or more persons on each  of
    19  twenty  days during a calendar year or the preceding calendar year, each
    20  day being in a different calendar week, and the liability shall in  such
    21  event commence on the first day of the calendar year, or
    22    (3)  is  liable for the tax imposed under the federal unemployment tax
    23  act as an employer of agricultural labor and the liability shall in such
    24  event commence on the first day of the calendar quarter in such calendar
    25  year when he first paid remuneration  for  agricultural  labor  in  this
    26  state.
    27    (b)  An  employer who becomes liable for contributions under paragraph
    28  (a) of this subdivision shall cease to be liable as of the first day  of
    29  a  calendar  quarter  next following the filing of a written application
    30  provided the commissioner finds that the employer:
    31    (1) has not paid to persons employed in agricultural labor cash remun-
    32  eration of twenty thousand dollars or more in any of the eight  calendar
    33  quarters preceding such day, and
    34    (2) has not employed in agricultural labor ten or more persons on each
    35  of  twenty  days during the current or the preceding calendar year, each
    36  day being in a different week, and
    37    (3) is not liable for the tax imposed under the  federal  unemployment
    38  tax act as an employer of agricultural labor.
    39    2.  Crew  leader.] Whenever a person renders services as a member of a
    40  crew which is paid and furnished by the crew leader to perform  services
    41  in  agricultural  labor for another employer, such other employer shall,
    42  for the purpose of this article, be deemed to be the  employer  of  such
    43  person, unless:
    44    [(a)]  1.  the  crew  leader holds a valid certificate of registration
    45  under the federal farm labor contractor  registration  act  of  nineteen
    46  hundred sixty-three or substantially all the members of the crew operate
    47  or  maintain tractors, mechanized harvesting or cropdusting machinery or
    48  any other mechanized equipment which is provided by the crew leader, and
    49    [(b)] 2. the crew leader is not an employee of such other employer and
    50  has not entered into a written agreement with such employer under  which
    51  he is designated as an employee.
    52    §  10.  Paragraph  (m)  of  subdivision 5 of section 225 of the public
    53  health law, as amended by chapter 894 of  the  laws  of  1958  and  such
    54  subdivision as renumbered by chapter 626 of the laws of 1971, is amended
    55  to read as follows:

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     1    (m) require that application be made for a permit to operate a farm or
     2  food  processing  labor  camp as defined in the sanitary code; authorize
     3  appropriate officers or agencies to issue such a permit when the  appli-
     4  cant is in compliance with the established regulations; prescribe stand-
     5  ards  for  living  quarters  at  farm  and  food processing labor camps,
     6  including provisions for sanitary conditions; light,  air,  and  safety;
     7  protection from fire hazards; maintenance; and such other matters as may
     8  be  appropriate  for  security of life or health, provided however, that
     9  the  provisions  of  the  sanitary  code  established  pursuant  to  the
    10  provisions  hereof  shall  apply  to  all farm and food processing labor
    11  camps intended to house migrant workers and which are occupied [by  five
    12  or  more  persons].   In the preparation of such regulations, the public
    13  health council may request and shall receive technical  assistance  from
    14  the  board of standards and appeals of the state department of labor and
    15  the state building code commission. Such regulation shall be enforced in
    16  the same manner as are other provisions of the sanitary code;
    17    § 11. Groups 14-a and 14-b of subdivision 1 of section 3 of the  work-
    18  ers'  compensation law, Group 14-a as amended by chapter 233 of the laws
    19  of 1961 and Group 14-b as added by chapter 646 of the laws of 1966,  are
    20  amended to read as follows:
    21    Group  14-a.  On  and after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-two,
    22  any other employment in a trade, business, or occupation carried  on  by
    23  the  employer  for  pecuniary gain in which one or more employees [other
    24  than farm laborers] are employed.
    25    Group 14-b. Employment as a farm laborer as provided herein.  A farmer
    26  shall  provide  coverage  under  this  chapter  for  all  farm  laborers
    27  [employed  during  any  part  of the twelve consecutive months beginning
    28  April first of any calendar year preceded by a calendar  year  in  which
    29  the  cash  remuneration  paid  to  all  farm  laborers aggregated twelve
    30  hundred dollars or more].
    31    § 12.  Section 51 of the workers'  compensation  law,  as  amended  by
    32  chapter 561 of the laws of 2003, is amended to read as follows:
    33    § 51. Posting of notice regarding compensation. Every employer who has
    34  complied with section fifty of this article shall post and maintain in a
    35  conspicuous place or places in and about his place or places of business
    36  typewritten or printed in English and Spanish notices in form prescribed
    37  by  the  chairman,  stating  the  fact that he has complied with all the
    38  rules and regulations of the chairman and the  board  and  that  he  has
    39  secured  the  payment  of compensation to his employees and their depen-
    40  dents in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, but failure  to
    41  post  such  notice  as  herein  provided shall not in any way affect the
    42  exclusiveness of the remedy provided for by section eleven of this chap-
    43  ter. Every employer who owns or operates automotive or horse-drawn vehi-
    44  cles and has no minimum staff of regular employees  required  to  report
    45  for work at an established place of business maintained by such employer
    46  and  every  employer  who is engaged in the business of moving household
    47  goods or furniture shall post such notices in  each  and  every  vehicle
    48  owned or operated by him. Failure to post or maintain such notice in any
    49  of said vehicles shall constitute presumptive evidence that such employ-
    50  er  has  failed  to secure the payment of compensation. The chairman may
    51  require any employer to furnish a written statement at any time  showing
    52  the stock corporation, mutual corporation or reciprocal insurer in which
    53  such  employer  is  insured  or  the  manner  in which such employer has
    54  complied with any provision of this chapter. Failure for a period of ten
    55  days to furnish such  written  statement  shall  constitute  presumptive
    56  evidence that such employer has neglected or failed in respect of any of

        S. 2247                             5
     1  the  matters  so  required.  Any  employer  who fails to comply with the
     2  provisions of this section shall be required to pay to the board a  fine
     3  of [up to two hundred fifty] five hundred dollars for each violation, in
     4  addition  to any other penalties imposed by law to be deposited into the
     5  uninsured employers' fund.
     6    § 13. The workers' compensation law is amended by adding a new section
     7  110-b to read as follows:
     8    § 110-b. Reporting of injuries to employer. Every farm labor  contrac-
     9  tor, foreman or supervisor of farm laborers who has notice of any injury
    10  to  a  farm  laborer  incurred  during the course of employment shall be
    11  required to inform the employer, owner or operator of a farm of any such
    12  injury.
    13    § 14. The first undesignated paragraph of section 120 of the  workers'
    14  compensation  law,  as  amended  by  chapter  61 of the laws of 1989, is
    15  amended to read as follows:
    16    It shall be unlawful for any employer or his or  her  duly  authorized
    17  agent  to  discharge  or  in  any  other  manner discriminate against an
    18  employee as to his or her employment because such employee  has  claimed
    19  or attempted to claim compensation from such employer, requested a claim
    20  form for injuries received in the course of employment, or because he or
    21  she  has  testified  or  is  about to testify in a proceeding under this
    22  chapter and no other valid reason is shown to exist for such  action  by
    23  the employer.
    24    § 15. The opening paragraph of paragraph A of subdivision 6 of section
    25  201  of  the workers' compensation law, as amended by chapter 903 of the
    26  laws of 1986, is amended to read as follows:
    27    "Employment" means employment in any  trade,  business  or  occupation
    28  carried on by an employer, except that the following shall not be deemed
    29  employment  under  this  article:  services  performed  for the state, a
    30  municipal corporation, local governmental agency, other political subdi-
    31  vision or public authority; employment subject to the  federal  railroad
    32  unemployment  insurance  act;  service  performed on or as an officer or
    33  member of the crew of a vessel on the  navigable  water  of  the  United
    34  States  or outside the United States; [service as farm laborers;] casual
    35  employment and the first forty-five days of extra employment of  employ-
    36  ees  not regularly in employment as otherwise defined herein; service as
    37  golf caddies; and service during all or any part of the school  year  or
    38  regular vacation periods as a part-time worker of any person actually in
    39  regular  attendance during the day time as a student in an elementary or
    40  secondary school.  The term "employment" shall not include the  services
    41  of a licensed real estate broker or sales associate if it be proven that
    42  (a)  substantially all of the remuneration (whether or not paid in cash)
    43  for the services performed by such broker or sales associate is directly
    44  related to sales or other output (including the performance of services)
    45  rather than to the number of hours worked; (b) the services performed by
    46  the broker or sales  associate  are  performed  pursuant  to  a  written
    47  contract  executed between such broker or sales associate and the person
    48  for whom the services are performed within the past  twelve  to  fifteen
    49  months; and (c) the written contract provided for in [paragraph] subpar-
    50  agraph (b) herein was not executed under duress and contains the follow-
    51  ing provisions:
    52    §  16.  The  opening  paragraph of subdivision 5 of section 651 of the
    53  labor law, as amended by chapter 640 of the laws of 2005, is amended  to
    54  read as follows:
    55    "Employee" includes any individual employed or permitted to work by an
    56  employer  in any occupation, but shall not include any individual who is

        S. 2247                             6
     1  employed or permitted to work: (a) in service as a part time baby sitter
     2  in the home of the employer; or someone who lives  in  the  home  of  an
     3  employer for the purpose of serving as a companion to a sick, convalesc-
     4  ing  or elderly person, and whose principal duties do not include house-
     5  keeping; (b) [in labor on a farm; (c)] in a bona fide executive,  admin-
     6  istrative,  or  professional capacity; [(d)] (c) as an outside salesman;
     7  [(e)] (d) as a driver engaged in operating a taxicab;  [(f)]  (e)  as  a
     8  volunteer,  learner or apprentice by a corporation, unincorporated asso-
     9  ciation, community chest, fund  or  foundation  organized  and  operated
    10  exclusively  for  religious, charitable or educational purposes, no part
    11  of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private share-
    12  holder or individual; [(g)] (f) as a member of a religious order, or  as
    13  a  duly ordained, commissioned or licensed minister, priest or rabbi, or
    14  as a sexton, or as a christian science reader; [(h)] (g) in or for  such
    15  a religious or charitable institution, which work is incidental to or in
    16  return  for  charitable aid conferred upon such individual and not under
    17  any express contract of hire; [(i)] (h) in  or  for  such  a  religious,
    18  educational  or  charitable institution if such individual is a student;
    19  [(j)] (i) in or for such a religious, educational or charitable institu-
    20  tion if the earning capacity of such individual is impaired by age or by
    21  physical or mental deficiency or injury; [(k)] (j) in or  for  a  summer
    22  camp or conference of such a religious, educational or charitable insti-
    23  tution  for  not  more  than three months annually; [(l)] (k) as a staff
    24  counselor in a children's camp; [(m)] (l) in or for a college or univer-
    25  sity fraternity, sorority, student association or  faculty  association,
    26  no  part  of  the  net  earnings  of  which inures to the benefit of any
    27  private shareholder or individual,  and  which  is  recognized  by  such
    28  college  or  university, if such individual is a student; [(n)] (m) by a
    29  federal, state or municipal government or political subdivision thereof.
    30  The exclusions from the term "employee" contained  in  this  subdivision
    31  shall  be as defined by regulations of the commissioner; or [(o)] (n) as
    32  a volunteer at a recreational or amusement event run by a business  that
    33  operates  such  events,  provided that no single such event lasts longer
    34  than eight consecutive days and no more than one such  event  concerning
    35  substantially  the  same subject matter occurs in any calendar year. Any
    36  such volunteer shall be at least eighteen years of age. A business seek-
    37  ing coverage under this paragraph shall notify every volunteer in  writ-
    38  ing,  in  language  acceptable to the commissioner, that by volunteering
    39  his or her services, such volunteer is  waiving  his  or  her  right  to
    40  receive  the minimum wage pursuant to this article. Such notice shall be
    41  signed and dated by a representative of the business and  the  volunteer
    42  and kept on file by the business for thirty-six months.
    43    § 17. Subdivision 1 of section 674 of the labor law, as added by chap-
    44  ter 552 of the laws of 1969, is amended to read as follows:
    45    1. The commissioner may promulgate such regulations as he deems appro-
    46  priate  to carry out the purposes of this article and to safeguard mini-
    47  mum wage standards. Such regulations may include, but  are  not  limited
    48  to,  the  defining of the circumstances or conditions for the acceptance
    49  of non-hourly rates and piece rates as equivalent to the minimum  hourly
    50  rates  established  by  this article. Such regulations also may include,
    51  but are not limited  to,  waiting  time  and  call-in  pay  rates;  wage
    52  provisions  governing  guaranteed  earnings  during specified periods of
    53  work; allowances for meals,  lodging,  and  other  items,  services  and
    54  facilities  when furnished by the employer; [and the employment of indi-
    55  viduals whose earning capacity is affected or impaired by youth or age,]
    56  or by physical or mental deficiency or  injury,  under  special  certif-

        S. 2247                             7
     1  icates  issued by the commissioner, at such wages lower than the minimum
     2  wage established by this  article  and  for  such  period  as  shall  be
     3  prescribed in such regulations.
     4    §  18.  This  act shall take effect immediately, provided that section
     5  ten of this act shall take effect on the thirtieth day  after  it  shall
     6  have become a law.