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NY Farmers Seek Compromise On Farmworker Overtime

farm tractor in field
WAMC/Pat Bradley
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Some New York farmers say they're open to compromise on legislation designed to help agricultural laborers.

Several farm owners traveled to Albany on Wednesday to discuss legislation before the Democrat-led Senate and Assembly which would allow farm workers to unionize, collect disability benefits and receive overtime for working more than 40 hours per week.

Supporters of the bill say it's about basic economic fairness, but farmers warn it could force some farms to close.

Vegetable farmer Brian Reeves said he can live with many of the bill's provisions but has concerns about the overtime proposal. He says the seasonal nature of agricultural work doesn't lend itself to consistent, 40-hour work weeks, but that farmers like him might accept an overtime threshold of higher than 40 hours.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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