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Updated: September 19, 2022 @ 9:42 am
The New York state Capitol in Albany

The New York state Capitol in Albany
With New York on the verge of lowering the overtime threshold for farmworkers, Republicans have introduced federal legislation that would block the state’s action.
U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs introduced a bill titled the “Protect Local Farms Act.” The bill’s text is straightforward. It would add a preemption to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act that would prevent states from setting the maximum work weeks for farmworkers to less than 60 hours.
The legislation is in response to the New York Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendation to lower the farm overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours over the next decade. The phased-in approach, if approved by state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, would not begin until 2024. Every two years, the overtime threshold will be lowered by four hours until it reaches the 40-hour mark in 2032.
Reardon has 45 days to review the wage board’s report and either accept or reject its findings.
U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican who is running to represent the new 24th Congressional District that includes all of Cayuga County, urged Reardon to reject the proposal. But if she doesn’t, the bill Tenney, R-Canandaigua, has cosponsored would preempt the state’s regulation.
“New York family farms power our state and feed our families — they cannot bear nor do they deserve these additional price hikes,” Tenney said.
The legislation’s impact would affect two other states, California and Washington, that are implementing a 40-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers.
Supporters of a lower overtime standard say it corrects a decision made decades ago that excluded farmworkers. Workers in other industries have long received overtime after working 40 hours a week, but not farm laborers.
Opponents, especially those in agriculture, argue that it would be detrimental to farms already struggling due to the effects of inflation and COVID-19. A survey of farmers found that some farms could close or move out of state if the lower overtime threshold is adopted.
Robert Harding
The (Auburn) Citizen
With New York on the verge of lowering the overtime threshold for farmworkers, Republicans have introduced federal legislation that would block the state’s action.
U.S. Rep. Chris Jacobs introduced a bill titled the “Protect Local Farms Act.” The bill’s text is straightforward. It would add a preemption to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act that would prevent states from setting the maximum work weeks for farmworkers to less than 60 hours.
The legislation is in response to the New York Farm Laborers Wage Board’s recommendation to lower the farm overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours over the next decade. The phased-in approach, if approved by state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, would not begin until 2024. Every two years, the overtime threshold will be lowered by four hours until it reaches the 40-hour mark in 2032.
Reardon has 45 days to review the wage board’s report and either accept or reject its findings.
U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, a Republican who is running to represent the new 24th Congressional District that includes all of Cayuga County, urged Reardon to reject the proposal. But if she doesn’t, the bill Tenney, R-Canandaigua, has cosponsored would preempt the state’s regulation.
“New York family farms power our state and feed our families — they cannot bear nor do they deserve these additional price hikes,” Tenney said.
The legislation’s impact would affect two other states, California and Washington, that are implementing a 40-hour overtime threshold for farmworkers.
Supporters of a lower overtime standard say it corrects a decision made decades ago that excluded farmworkers. Workers in other industries have long received overtime after working 40 hours a week, but not farm laborers.
Opponents, especially those in agriculture, argue that it would be detrimental to farms already struggling due to the effects of inflation and COVID-19. A survey of farmers found that some farms could close or move out of state if the lower overtime threshold is adopted.
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