Pictured is Senator Borrello with Senator Rob Orbtt and Assemblyman Mike Norris
State Senator George Borrello, Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, offered the following statement in response to the recommendation by the Farm Laborers Wage Board that the overtime threshold for farm workers be lowered from its current 60 hours per week to 40 hours per week over 10 years:
“Today, New York’s farming community moved another step closer to a tragic reckoning with the decision by the Farm Laborers Wage Board to officially recommend lowering the farm worker overtime threshold from 60 hours to 40 hours.
It was unfair and unethical of the Legislature’s majorities and New York’s former governor to require this decision of three unelected individuals, two-thirds of whom lack any agriculture background. While well-meaning individuals, these board members are ill equipped to render sound, informed decisions concerning this critically important industry.
The real experts on this issue were the hundreds of those on the front lines of the industry – farmers, farm workers and agribusiness representatives – who provided nearly unanimous testimony at the board’s public hearings that a lower threshold would force them to change or scale back their operations or abandon agriculture entirely. Farm workers, the alleged ‘beneficiaries’ of this decision, testified that a lower threshold would force them to seek work in other states. The fact that the Wage Board ignored the voices of those who have devoted their lives to farming indicates that the process was always intended to be optics and nothing more.
It is not too late for Governor Hochul to do the right thing for everyone involved and stop this harmful change from moving forward. Over the last four years, there have been too many examples where Albany has put political special interests ahead of the greater public good and the consequences have been disastrous. Governor Hochul has the opportunity to prevent this issue from being added to that dubious list and I urge her to seize it.”