April 13, 2010 – New York Farm Workers Bill

An article in the Fruit Growers News caught my eye this week. A bill is before the New York State Senate to grant new protections to farm workers. “If passed, the bill would give farm workers rights to overtime pay, a full day off every week, freedom to form unions and other benefits.”

According to the New York Farm Bureau president, if the bill passes “It will irreparably damage our family farms’ ability to produce local food for local New Yorkers.” It’s good to know that Farm Bureau is now a strong advocate of local foods, but evidently believes that eliminating church-going is one of the sacrifices we need to make for local foods!

But to me it sounds a bit like a discussion this country had when slavery was abolished. Heck, even pre-civil war era slaves has Sundays off! I thought I’d look at our founding father’s attitudes towards agricultural workers in comparison to the modern day Farm Bureau. At Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s slaves had Sundays and evenings off.

How about George Washington? “The work-day at Mount Vernon was from sunrise to sunset, with 2 hours off for meals. Sunday was a holiday. Slaves also received 3-4 days off at Christmas, and the Monday after Easter and Pentecost as holidays. If a slave was required to work a Sunday during harvest, Washington would allow them a day off later, and sometimes compensated them with pay.”

Any New York readers out there that can shed more light on this bill’s progress/political setting?

one year ago…”New Blackberries”