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Wage board delays farm overtime decision ADVERTISEMENT

Wage board delays farm overtime decision

NEW YORK STATE--After two short virtual zoom meetings last week, the New York State Department of Labor's Farm Wage Board decided Thursday, Dec. 31 to delay any recommendations for lowering the farm labor overtime threshold until November 2021 at the earliest. Discussion of the law by the three board panel included the possibility of reducing the 60-hour threshold to 40 for overtime, but in the end, it was tabled by the board in a move that was supported by board member and New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.
"I had encouraged giving the process more time to fully evaluate what a lower threshold would mean for all involved... I'd like to thank my fellow wage board members for their time and professionalism," Fisher said in a prepared statement.
The board, which consisted of Fisher, Brenda McDuffie, chairperson of the wage board and chief executive office of the Buffalo Urban League and Denis Hughes, former New York American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations President, was delayed by McDuffie with the support of Fisher. Hughes had argued on Monday that there were precedents for lowering the overtime threshold to 40 hours and the board had the authority to recommend the decrease from 60 hours to 40 hours be done in stages instead of by piecemeal.
Once announced, the delay was met with approval by state Republican leaders, who have long argued that over-regulation of farming in New York is hurting the industry by putting New York farms at a competitive disadvantage compared to farms in neighboring states. Proponents of lowering the threshold argue that doing so would bring the farm industry into line with other statewide industries.
In a November letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, 26 groups, organizations and farms signed on to a letter urging the governor to give "serious consideration" to any change in the overtime regulations for farms.
"Please know that if the overtime threshold for New York farmworkers is lowered to a level below 60 hours per week, the face of New York agriculture will be irreparably altered and we will no longer remain economically competitive in the crops and commodities that require a labor force," the letter said in part.

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