If Passed, Bill Will Ensure Equal Labor Rights for Farmworkers

When you buy food at the grocery store, you may not be aware of the injustice that the farmworkers undergo every day

Only a few days are left before the Farm Workers’ Fair Labor Practices Act could reach the Senate floor. According to a press release by the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, 80,000 to 100,000 New York farmworkers work every day without equal labor rights like equal pay, disability insurance, a day of rest, collective bargaining, child worker protection, safe and humane work environment, overtime pay — the list goes on. This bill will ensure that every farmworker receives all of the workers’ rights they have been deprived of for decades — the rights that every other worker in New York holds.

Farming is the only industry in which children as young as 14, 15, and 16 years old do not have the protection that child workers normally get. These children are paid $3.80 an hour — the same wage that child farmworkers have been paid since 1991.

“One worker I spoke to said he hadn’t had a day off in 10 years,” says Kerry Kennedy, RFK Center president.

In the final days before the bill is heard, the RFK Young Leaders, a youth coalition action that is dedicated to continuing the efforts of Robert Kennedy and Cesar Chavez in ensuring farmworkers’ rights, are promoting the issue through a campaign in support of the bill called *Except Farmworkers.

New Yorkers like The New York Times bestselling author and nutrition expert Michael Pollan, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet Magazine and former chief restaurant critic of The New York Times Ruth Reichl, and former contributing editor at Gourmet magazine and author of Tomatoland Barry Estabrook have all joined the RFK Young Leaders in promoting the issue. And restaurants like Dan Barber's Blue Hill and Haven's Kitchen are also doing all that they can to help the cause. 

“The people who are most aware of the injustice are the farmers themselves,” says Kennedy.

The legislatiion for the bill will end June 20.

How you can help the cause:

-Contact your New York State Senator

-Sign a petition

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-Spread the word