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Farmers reject Hochul's subsidy solution

Feb 07, 2022 2:02 pm

Joshua Solomon reports in the Times Union that Gov. Kathy Hochul is proposing a subsidy for farmers, so they can pay there workers in the same way that grocery store employees are compensated. Currently, most workers in New York get overtime pay after 40 hours, but farmworkers do not receive extra wages until they reach 60 hours of work. Last month the state's Farm Laborer Wage Board voted to slowly lower the threshold for overtime from 60 to 40 hours over the course of a decade. Farmers claim they do not have enough money to pay workers for the hours they are employed, and faced with Hochul's subsidy proposal claim they would not be able to make it to the end of the tax year for reimbursement. "While we appreciate the governor's proposal, we hope to continue the conversation with her to find the best possible outcome," New York Farm Bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman said in an email. "Ultimately, we are asking for her to maintain the 60-hour threshold so a tax credit would not be needed." Those standing up for the right's of workers have a different view. "The Department of Labor must prevent another generation of workers from suffering by accepting the wage board’s recommendation, and with Gov. Hochul’s dollar-for-dollar refundable tax credit, there is no reason that the overtime threshold cannot be lowered to 40 hours in 2024, eradicating this racist Jim Crow policy once and for all," New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement. Hochul's office says the subsidy would cost taxpayers $130 million annually. Read more about this story in the Times Union.