The Game Is Set Against Farmers, The County Takes The Hit

There is a lot for New Yorkers to be frustrated about when it comes to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act passed last week by the state Legislature.

Perhaps the biggest, though, is the bait-and-switch pulled on farmers when it comes to the 60-hour trigger for overtime.

The new bill came together quickly in the course of a couple of days. Assemblywoman Catharine Nolan, D-Manhattan and sponsor of the legislation, touted all of the compromises in the bill, including the 60-hour overtime trigger because she favored a 40-hour trigger.

“Each step of the way we tried to match a compromise with the farm laborers with a compromise for farmers and match them in tandem,” Nolan said on the floor.

It’s hard to see what Nolan actually gave, though, given that the 60-hour trigger may last only one year before it is changed by a wage board. Give credit to Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, for calling out Democrats’ shenanigans on the floor of the Assembly while explaining his vote against the bill.

“What we do is say you get 60 hours before overtime is triggered but only until the wage board makes up its mind whether that number should be reduced because it makes clear that the wage board cannot increase that threshold, only reduce it. … The Labor Department is headed by a former union organizer. To tell farmers this will be even and fair and unbiased is just baloney.”

Goodell is right. The deck is stacked against farmers, which means Chautauqua County has just been dealt a bad hand.