Harvesting Hope: Farmworkers Deserve Equal Labor Rights

Adriano Espaillat

May 12, 2014

New York Daily News


The state Senate Labor Committee Monday voted by a margin of more than two to one to grant New York’s 100,000 farm workers full and equal labor rights. The entire exercise — introduction, discussion and passage — took 100 seconds. That’s to undo 80 years of injustice that have excluded field hands from otherwise universal protections such as overtime pay, an unpaid day off per week and the right to organize and bargain collectively.

Steered by Chairwoman Diane Savino, the panel voted 11 to 5 to approve the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act. Support was tri-partisan: Savino is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference. She was joined by six Democrats and four Republicans. The GOP side was led by Joe Robach of Rochester. At his side were Long Islanders Carl Marcellino, Jack Martins and Kemp Hannon. As a famous New York Republican often said: “Bully.”

The bill has 26 Democratic sponsors. Add in the four stalwart Republicans and the number is getting very close to the magic 32 needed for floor passage. The legislation has cleared the Assembly and Gov. Cuomo says he will sign it.

The next step is the Finance Committee. Prime sponsor Adriano Espaillat has already filed the papers to force action there. He’s right to say that “all workers, regardless of where they work, should have the same rights and privileges.”


Finally, the bitter harvest of shame must end.