Syracuse activists urge state Senate to support farmworker rights

May 27, 2016

Supporters of farmworker justice chanted “yes we can” at a rally in Syracuse Thursday. They’re encouraging support for the Farmworkers Fair Labor practices Act, a piece of legislation that’s been stalled in the state legislature for 15 years.

Rebecca Fuentes, of the Workers’ Center of Central New York, says it’s the state Senate that usually holds up farmworkers’ rights legislation, but she’s hopeful that its new leadership will makes a difference. Senate Majority leader John Flanagan, who has been in the position for just over a year has expressed support of the issue in the past.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

"In the Senate right now we’re asking Sen. Flanagan to do the right thing and bring it up for a vote because there’s a lot of support for it. And we’re asking Sen. [Dave] Valesky and central New York, please do the right thing, support farm workers,” said Fuentes.

The legislation touches on a number of fair labor practices, including establishing an eight-hour day, providing farmworkers overtime pay and giving them the right to organize and bargain collectively.

The Workers' Center also recently filed a lawsuit that challenges the exclusion of farmworkers to organize at a farm in Lowville.