Our Voices

Supporting New York Farmworkers’ Right to Organize

(New York | May 11, 2016) Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights applauds yesterday’s filing of a case by the New York Civil Liberties Union to challenge discriminatory exceptions to New York labor law denying farmworkers the right to organize under New York’s Constitution. The NYCLU’s constitutional challenge was also endorsed by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“The right to organize is a fundamental human right protected by the New York constitution and enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. “Whether through the courts or through the legislature, it is high time that New York recognize the rights and dignity of the thousands of farmworkers that fuel the agricultural industry in our state.”

In 2012, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights awarded Librada Paz, a New York farmworker advocate, the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, and has been a long supporter of the Justice for Farmworkers campaign led by Rural and Migrant Ministry in the state. In 2014 RFK Young Leaders launched the *Except Farmworkers campaign.

Today in New York farmworkers are exempted from basic labor protections like the right to a day of rest per week, the right to overtime pay, and the right to collective bargaining. For years legislation has been passed in the New York State Assembly (A.4762) and introduced in the New York State Senate (S.1291) that would close these discriminatory loopholes in New York’s labor law providing equal rights to farmworkers, but has continually remained stalled in the Senate with leadership’s refusal to bring the legislation to the floor for a vote.