The wage board recommends phasing in a 40-hour overtime threshold over the next 10 years, a major step toward making that a reality for Farmworkers in New York.

The Farm Laborers Wage Board issued a resolution on Friday that the overtime threshold be lowered to forty hours from the current sixty-hour level. The Board recommended that the change be phased in over the next ten years. Now, it is up to Commissioner of Labor Roberta Reardon to accept the Board’s recommendation.

Farmworkers in New York didn’t qualify for overtime pay at all until 2020, when the state changed the law to mandate extra pay for workers who exceeded 60 hours a week. The new law also instructed a three-person “wage board” to consider whether to recommend a lower threshold.

Nationally, farmworkers were excluded from the overtime provisions of the landmark 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act. At the time, the U.S. was only 73 years removed from outlawing slavery. Advocates say continuing to leave them out perpetuates injustice against a profession long dominated by people of color.

The Wage Board’s recent recommendation is a tangible sign that the push to get farmworkers on an equal footing with workers in comparable positions in terms of overtime protections is gaining serious momentum.

Sources: Bellingham Herald; NYS DOL