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NY wage board delays decision on farmworker overtime threshold | Politics


Any decision on whether farmworkers will have a lower threshold for overtime pay won’t be made until 2022. 

State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon announced Wednesday that the farm laborers wage board will reconvene to hold three more hearings. The virtual hearings will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4; 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 18; and 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20. 

The purpose of the hearings is to “hear testimony to consider the existing overtime work threshold for farm laborers and the extent to which the overtime work threshold may be lowered in New York state,” according to the state Department of Labor. 

The establishment of a wage board was part of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act signed by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2019. The law requires farmworkers to be paid overtime if they work over 60 hours in a week, or if they work on their scheduled day of rest. The wage board’s task is to determine whether the overtime threshold should be lowered, possibly to 40 hours a week — the same standard that’s in place for workers in other industries. 

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The three-member wage board, consisting of New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher, former New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes and former Buffalo Urban League President and CEO Brenda McDuffie, held five public hearings in 2020. But at the end of the year, the board determined it needed more time to consider whether the overtime threshold should be lowered. 

In a letter written on Dec. 31, 2020, Reardon recommended keeping the 60-hour threshold for one year and reconvening the wage board by Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. 

There are opposing views on whether the overtime threshold should be lowered for farmworkers. Farms warn that they could move operations elsewhere or go out of business if there is a 40-hour threshold. But proponents of the change, including farmworkers, say laborers shouldn’t be treated differently than workers in other industries. 

For the upcoming hearings, the wage board will accept testimony from farms, farmworkers, academic experts, elected officials and others. Anyone interested in testifying at the hearings should register at If someone wishes to testify but can’t attend any of the hearings, they may submit their comments to [email protected] 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.


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