NYSDOL Updates Guidance FAQ About NY Farm Labor Laws

The New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) recently released a new set of frequently asked questions (FAQ) that address the 2019 Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) and the recent changes to FLFLPA that were made in the New York budget process. Find the FAQ here: https://labor.ny.gov/immigrants/farm-laborers-fair-labor-practices-act/flflpa-frequently-asked-questions.pdf

Pay special attention to the set of questions under the heading “Coverage.” This section includes NYSDOL’s interpretation of who is a “farm laborer” and who is not. Be aware that being family doesn’t just require the common definition of the concept. As question 6 indicates, to be defined as family also requires a certain sense of obligation to the business and that pay is not based on hours or days of work. The law is in effect now but NYSDOL continues to be prevented from enforcing it with respect to family members and other exempt employee by the temporary restraining order issued by a federal judge in Buffalo. This situation will likely continue until the lawsuit is resolved.

Cornell Agricultural Workforce Development and other industry organizations are continuing to seek information and clarification from NYSDOL about important details and questions that the new laws raise.

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By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post NYSDOL Updates Guidance FAQ About NY Farm Labor Laws appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

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NY Farm Labor Wage Board Hearings Scheduled

The long-awaited New York Farm Labor Wage Board is organized and scheduled to meet on 5 dates and locations from late February through March. Farms should make plans to attend and testify at the wage board hearings about how overtime rules affect their farm businesses and employees. The schedule is as follows and more information can be found at the links below.

  • Friday 2/28 – Albany – New York State Museum Cultural Education Center, Clark Auditorium, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY 12230
  • Friday 3/13 – Syracuse – Onondaga Community College, Storer Auditorium, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse, NY 13215
  • Monday 3/23 – Binghamton – Binghamton University, Symposium Hall, Center of Excellence Building Innovative Technology Complex, 45 Murray Hill Road, Vestal, NY 13850
  • Thursday 4/16 – Long Island – Brookhaven Town Hall, 1 Independence Hill, Farmingville, NY 11738
  • Thursday 4/23 – Batavia- Genesee Community College, William Stuart Forum, 1 College Rd, Batavia, NY 14020

NY Farm Bureau issued a press release with more details and guidance for farmers.

NYS Department of Labor posted a webpage with information about the wage board and with links to register to testify at one of the hearings.

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Temporary Restraining Order Affecting FLFLPA Extended

The 2019 New York farm labor law known as the Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) went into effect for most employees on January 1, 2020. But for farm owner family members and many supervisors and managers, the law is temporary held up. As reported in an earlier post, a federal judge in western New York issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) that prevents the New York State Department of Labor from enforcing the new law with respect to farm family members, supervisors and managers. the original TRO was set to expire on January 24, 2020, the scheduled date of a hearing. The New York state government, the defendants in the matter, requested additional time to prepare for the hearing and the federal judge extended the TRO for one month with a new hearing scheduled for February 28, 2020.

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By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post Temporary Restraining Order Affecting FLFLPA Extended appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

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Register for Becker Forum, Time Is Running Out!

 

Clock face with words changing times as the hands.

The 2020 Becker Forum is titled “Farm Labor: Times of Change,” and there is a lot of change to talk about. Producers from all agricultural sectors are invited to attend Becker Forum and sharpen their management skills in these times of changing labor requirements. Time is running out, register by Monday, January 6 at $95 or pay $120 to register at the door.

Register here: http://nysvga.org/expo/information/

Download the Becker Forum Flyer.

Farm employees have the right to organize into unions for the first time starting in 2020. John Wirenius, Chairperson of the NY Public Employment Relations Board (PERB), will join us to talk about the new law and it’s implications for farm employers. PERB is the state agency assigned to supervise and administer union-management relationships in the agricultural industry. In addition, we will have a panel to discuss farm management in a union environment consisting of a grower from California, an educational professional from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, and a labor attorney.

Dramatic labor law changes went into effect for New York farm employers on January 1, 2020. Attorney Joshua Viau will update what producers need to know and manage for with regard to overtime, day of rest requirements, the wage board, and sexual harassment regulations. He will also address the meaning of the recent temporary restraining order affecting specific farm employees.

New York is not the only place where change is occurring, Craig Regelbrugge is in charge of public policy and government relations for AmericanHort in Washington DC. He will give us an update on the policy environment and dramatic ag immigration policy changes currently under consideration at the federal level.

Other topics will include:

  • H-2A Application Process Changes
  • The View from California: How Growers are Adapting to Survive Changing Labor Regulations and Labor Markets

Becker Forum is organized by the New York State Vegetable Growers Association. The event is relevant and open to producers in all agricultural sectors in New York and surrounding states.

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By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post Register for Becker Forum, Time Is Running Out! appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

New Labor Laws (Mostly) in Effect for New York Farm Employers

With the arrival of the New Year, most of the Farm Laborer Fair Labor Practices Act (FLFLPA) regulating New York farm employers is now in effect. Overtime, Day of Rest, Collective Bargaining, and increased insurance requirements are now in place for most frontline, non-family farm employees. Employers should carefully track hours worked for most, if not all, employees and pay overtime for eligible employees who agree to work more than 60 hours in a calendar week designated by the farm. Farms should also update their work agreements with employees to indicate how many hours of work will be expected each week and to clarify how overtime pay and day-of-rest rules will apply to each employee.

Farm industry groups and state government agencies such as NYS Department of Labor (NYSDOL) and NYS Public Employee Relations Board (PERB) worked together in the last quarter of 2019 to communicate details of FLFLPA to farm employers. During this process, industry leaders became convinced that aspects of the FLFLPA were inconsistent and problematic with respect to farm family members, supervisors, shareholders, executive, and administrative employees. On December 30, 2019 the Northeast Dairy Producers Association (NEDPA) and the New York State Vegetable Growers Association (NYSVGA) filed a lawsuit with the federal court in Western New York seeking a temporary restraining order halting enforcement of FLFLPA only for family members, supervisors, shareholders, executive, and administrative employees. The judge granted the industry groups’ request so the FLFLPA cannot be enforced for these specific employees until the next court hearing which is scheduled for January 24, 2020.

Quote from the judge’s temporary restraining order:

“3.  For  the  duration  of  the temporary  restraining  order: (a)  To  the  extent  the  Act  requires  agricultural  employers,  as  defined in New  York  Labor  Law  § 701(2)(b),  to treat  as  farm  laborers  under  New York  Labor  Law §  701(3)(c)  any  individual  related to the  employer  to the  third  degree of  consanguinity or affinity; any foreperson in charge; or any bona fide executive, administrator, professional, or supervisor (“Family and Supervisory Employees”), the defendants [NY Governor, Attorney General, and Commissioner of Labor] are temporarily enjoined from enforcing the Act in such manner.”

I repeat to be very clear, for all non-family, frontline employees, FLFLPA went into effect on January 1 as scheduled. 

Employers should also be advised that with the new year comes an increase in New York’s minimum wage. According to the New York Minimum Wage Order for Farm Workers, the minimum wage for most of upstate New York is now $11.80 per hour. For Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties the new minimum wage rate is $13.00 per hour.

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By Richard Stup, Cornell University. Permission granted to repost, quote, and reprint with author attribution.
The post New Labor Laws (Mostly) in Effect for New York Farm Employers appeared first in The Ag Workforce Journal 

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