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N.Y. Board Delays Decision On State Farmworkers Overtime Pay

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The three-person Farm Laborers Wage Board has delayed a decision on whether New York should make it easier for farmworkers to get overtime pay until at least November.

The board voted ahead of the New Year to postpone deciding if the threshold for farmworker overtime pay should be reduced to 40 hours a week from 60 hours. Brenda McDuffie, chairperson of the board, said more time is needed due to the economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019, New York passed a law requiring farmworkers to be paid overtime when they work more than 60 hours a week. Labor groups pushed for the hours to be lowered, but the agriculture industry opposed. Farm owners say the cost of overtime will be burdensome, and likely require them to make cuts.

The Laborers Wage Board was appointed by the state Labor Department to issue a proposal on the issue, which was due on Thursday.

According to the state Labor Department, the decision will affect around 24,000 farmers statewide.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.