Cuomo supports the right of farm workers to collectively bargain.
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) has filed suit against the State of New York claiming farm workers are being deprived of bargaining rights granted in the state constitution.
Governor Cuomo offered his support of the NYCLU position stating “I agree with the NYCLU that the exclusion of farm workers from the labor relations act is inconsistent with our constitutional principles, and my administration will not be defending the act in court.”
New York law includes provisions that recognize the realities of agricultural production: planting and harvesting of crops and the milking of cows are extremely time sensitive and weather-dependent. For a farm to lose employees to an untimely walk-off of the job could jeopardize a season's crop and place livestock health at risk.
Both the NYCLU and Governor Cuomo are framing the realities of the long days and hard work required to harvest crops and care for animals as “exploitation” in “brutal working conditions.” The NYCLU states the purpose of the lawsuit is to move “aggressively against employers who abuse their workers.”
The NYCLU claims the labor relations act is “a racist policy …that prevents farmworkers from organizing to improve their brutal work conditions.”
New York agricultural organizations have a history of addressing workers’ rights. The New York Farm Bureau states the farm industry has long been pushing for comprehensive immigration reform that will have many positive benefits for the employees and the industry as a whole. The Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) has formed an Agriculture Workforce Development Coalition, with representation of all segments of the industry, to positively and proactively promote the industry's dedication to the care and treatment of workers on farms.