New York State Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon has not yet rendered her decision on whether to accept the state’s Farm Laborers Wage Board decision to lower the farmworker overtime threshold from 60 hours per week to 40 hours per week, but that hasn’t stopped likely 2022 19th congressional district race foes Antonio Delgado and Marc Molinaro from lobbing a few press release barbs at each other over the issue.
Incumbent Congressman Delgado (D) released a March 29, 2022 letter he sent to Governor Kathy Hochul urging her to reject the Board’s January decision.
“Agriculture already faces a growing labor crisis, and lowering the farmworker overtime threshold to 40 hours puts farm operations in New York State at serious risk,” the congressman wrote. “Many farmers and producers have expressed concerns that the resulting increase in costs will put them out of business.”
“Lowering the overtime threshold from 60 to 40 hours adds another hardship for our farmers, and may cause many to close their doors,” he wrote. “Rather than move forward with the wage board’s decision, I urge you to work with farmers to find a better solution.”
Mr. Molinaro (R), Dutchess County Executive, immediately said Rep. Delgado was “leading from behind” and said, “There have been years of opportunity for Antonio Delgado to speak up and fight for farmers.”
“Antonio Delgado waited till the cows came home to address this issue, an 11th-hour appeal opposing the proposed Farm Workers Overtime, with the knowledge that the budget will contain a tax credit to mitigate the cost,” he said. When the Board rendered its decision on January 20, Mr. Molinaro said, “Where in the world is Antonio Delgado on the Farm Laborers Act, his constituents deserve to know.”
Governor Kathy Hochul’s proposed budget for the state’s new fiscal year – still not finalized at press time – would include a taxpayer-infused subsidy of some $130 million to help farmers offset the cost of rising wages. The Wage Board’s recommendation would lower the overtime threshold to 40 hours per week over a 10-year phase-in.