NY farmers, workers worry about impending overtime decision

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 4:24 PM EST
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PERU, N.Y. (WCAX) - Harvest season means working overtime on the farm and that is fueling a big debate over pay.

In New York, the state wage board determines how man-hours employees work before they make time and a half.

Right now for farmhands, it’s 60 hours per week. That includes migrant workers.

The board wants to lower that threshold to 40 hours.

Farmers from across the region gathered at Rulf’s Orchard in Peru to complain.

They say they can’t afford overtime and will have to cut back hours from 60 to 40 or let go of workers.

Paul Fisher, from Jamaica, has worked at Rulf’s for the last 27 years. His two sons also work there. He wants to work more than 60 hours, not less.

“I don’t think anybody should determine when we take a rest day. I think we should take a rest day when we need a rest day. I am from Jamaica. When I got back home, I take a vacation so I don’t need one here. I come here to work. The 60 hours is already taking a toll on us for our family back home, we have to feed our family back home and feed ourselves here and take care of everything,” Fisher said.

Farmers say they are concerned if the change in overtime goes through, workers will choose to work in other states where they can get more hours.

The state’s wage board will make the final decision by the end of the year.

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