State Senator George Borrello has proposed legislation that would eliminate the three-member Farm Laborers Wage Board.
The Farm Laborers Wage Board was established as part of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFPA) passed in 2019.
The Wage Board is charged with making a recommendation on reducing the current 60-hour overtime threshold for farm workers to 40 hours. In January, after numerous public hearings on the issue that included testimony from farmers, farm workers and industry stakeholders, the board recommended lowering the threshold, despite the fact that more than 70 percent of the testimony conveyed the harm that would be caused by such a change.
Borrello, a ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, issued a statement saying, “The Wage Board has just one member with an agricultural background, making it ill-equipped to render sound, informed decisions concerning New York State’s critically-important agriculture industry. The fact that the Board ignored the vast majority of testimony, as well as data from a Cornell study that found a lower threshold would hurt both farmers and farm workers, indicates the process was more optics than anything else. Regardless, a decision of this magnitude should not rest with three unelected, unaccountable individuals, which is why this legislation is necessary.”
Senator Borrello noted that the Wage Board is set to reconvene on September 6 to present its final report regarding the overtime recommendations. With many legislators calling for a special session before the end of the summer to tackle crime and inflation, there is potential to address this issue before the board’s scheduled meeting.
Assemblyman Chris Tague, ranking member of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, is sponsoring companion legislation in the lower house.