Two groups of farmers are suing to block a law that is due to come into force on Wednesday, giving workers the right to form union organizations and pay overtime.
The New York State Vegetable Growers Association and the Northeast Dairy Producers Association filed a lawsuit with the Buffalo U.S. District Court on Monday to temporarily delay the entry into force of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.
According to Syracuse.com, farmers are trying to clarify the planned enforcement of the law, which gives farmers the right to form union organizations, pay overtime and take at least one day off per week.
The federal law currently prohibits farm owners, family members and supervisors from stopping union activities or participating in union formation, but the new state law would give them the right to participate in union activities.
Brian Reeves, president of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association, said the group had spent months trying to negotiate with government officials to reconcile the “ambiguity and injustice” of the law.
“Today we are simply looking for a temporary pause for the implementation of this law to avoid harming our farms and our employees while the governor and lawmaker correct the ambiguity,” said Reeves in a statement received from Syracuse.com.
John Dickinson, who represents the Northeast Dairy Producers, said farmers intend to comply with the law, but need clarification.
“The lack of advice the dairy community receives creates unnecessary stress for farms, farms, and families across the state,” he said in a statement received from the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.
Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) signed the draft law in July. Legislation also provides compensation for agricultural workers and unemployment insurance, and demands that farmers have better working conditions.