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Farmworkers Aren’t Paid Overtime At 40 Hours. New York Could Change That.

This summary about overtime pay for New York farmworkers was featured in Documented’s Early Arrival newsletter. You can subscribe to receive it in your inbox three times per week here.

The New York Farm Laborers Wage Board yesterday officially recommended that the state Department of Labor decrease farmworkers overtime threshold to 40 hours over the course of the next ten years. 

The labor department has 45 days to accept, reject, or modify the recommendation. If approved, it would take effect starting January 1, 2024.

Unlike other hourly workers in New York, farmworkers are denied overtime at 40 hours:

“Farmworkers have waited over 80 years for an end to the racist exclusion that has stolen countless hours of overtime pay,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Senior Attorney for legislative affairs Lisa Zucker. 

Calling the current 60-hour threshold a “racist Jim Crow policy,” Zuckler said Hochul and state Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon must prevent another generation of workers from suffering by unequivocally accepting the Wage Board’s recommendation. 

The wage board held six hearings in 2020 to decide if the threshold should be lowered. But board members ended up recommending a pause in the process because of the pandemic.

Over 80% of farmworkers in the U.S. are immigrants, and 45% are undocumented. The majority of them are between the ages of their late 30s to early 60s, and often conduct their work under grueling conditions, putting their health and safety at risk.

Modifications to the law which sets overtime for farm workers at 60 hours will allow for improvements to their work conditions and job security, advocates say.

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