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Wage Board Votes to Go to 40 Hour OT

The Farm Labor Wage Board voted 2-1 at the end of today's wage board hearing to lower the 60-hour overtime threshold to 40 hours over the next decade. NYFB President David Fisher, who is on the wage board, voted against the three resolutions presented by board chair Brenda McDuffie and supported by former AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes. The recommendation made to the Department of Labor Commissioner is that the overtime threshold would drop to 56-hours beginning in 2024 and then lower by four more hours every other year. That would mean a 40-hour threshold will be reached in 2032.

Again, this is not the final decision, but only a recommendation. The DOL Commissioner still must submit a report for public comment with the ultimate decision left to Gov. Hochul. NYFB and our agricultural partners in the Grow NY Farms coalition will continue to fight to stay at the 60 overtime threshold in the coming weeks.

President Fisher continually pushed back on egregious comments made during the hearing process and questioned the timing of the wage board's decision. He also proposed holding off on a vote, but that was rejected by the other two board members. He served all of agriculture well in his commitment and dedication during this difficult process.

Statement below from Grow NY Farm, a coaltion that includes New York Farm Bureau, on the wage board recommendation:

The Farm Laborers Wage Board voted two-to-one to recommend lowering the overtime threshold to 40 hours a week over the next decade, despite 70% of the testimony made by farmers and farmworkers who asked for overtime to stay at 60. It is disingenuous and irresponsible that the data, research, and comments made from those who know agriculture best were cast aside by the majority of the Wage Board. Changing the overtime threshold to 40 hours a week for farmworkers in New York means that these workers will be limited to 40 hours, due to simple farm economics. This is not a win for farmworkers that self-proclaimed worker advocates will claim.

Agricultural production, diversification, and job availability will suffer. That is no scare tactic. We have already seen farmworkers leave the state for more hours of work and production shift to less labor-intensive crops since the farm labor legislation was enacted in January 2020. Further collapse of New York agriculture is on the hands of those who spread falsehoods and look to destroy the livelihoods of farmworkers they say they represent. This is also a loss for New Yorkers who enjoy and depend on access to local food, something that was highlighted during the pandemic.

New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher voted against lowering the threshold, simply asking for more time to study the economic impacts of a lower threshold. Governor Hochul and Commissioner Reardon must now do what is right and let the facts be their guide. If this administration cares about the future of upstate New York, Long Island and urban access to locally produced food, they must put a stop to the constant regulatory assault on agriculture.

Grow NY Farms would like to thank everyone who testified this year. The care and respect they have for their employees were clear from the beginning. No wage board decision can take that away. We all value essential farm work and want the very best for farm employees, that includes the ability to earn a livelihood in the profession they have chosen.