The Pro’s And Con’s Of Changing Farm Overtime Rules

January 21, 2022

ALBANY, NY – On Thursday night the New York State’s Farm Labor Wage Board, held a video Zoom Conference, during which, they heard arguments for and against, farmers having to change their overtime rules from 60 hours a week being overtime, to 40 hours a week being overtime.

Those who were in favor of a 40 hour overtime rule, argued that it is prejudiced to overwork the often-non-white farm employees, depriving them of personal and family time. They also maintain that it puts farmers in danger to work them to the point of exhaustion because when overtired, they make mistakes around heavy farm machinery.

Those in favor of a 60 hour overtime rule say, they are not racist, they treat their workers well and that farm hands often make $45,000 a year or more. They also argue that their farm workers will lose thousands of dollars a year in pay, if the overtime goes to 40 hours a week. We don’t know yet when the final decision will come down from the state’s farm wage board, about the 60 hour a week rule.

Below is audio from most of the Zoom Conference from last night. It begins with State Senator Jessica Ramos (D, Queens), who supports the change to overtime rules. The audio ends with State Senator Tom O’Mara (R, Big Flats), who is opposed to a 40 an hour a week overtime rule. In between the testimony from the two senators, are numerous farmers and activists from both sides, who weigh in with their thoughts.