Would you like to learn more about the farmworkers about whom Richard Witt spoke on Sunday, November 11? Rural and Migrant Ministries has published their stories. These are the testimonies of several men and women who labor on the farms in our state, yet are excluded from the protection of our laws. New York State farmworkers still lack the rights to a day of rest, overtime pay and the right to bargain collectively – which means they are powerless to ask their employers for what they deserve – equal rights and dignity.

Here are a few excerpts from their stories.

From “Anonymous”:

“I am a worker and I want to omit my name. I am 62 years old and I work in an ornamental plant farm. My job is to plant and prepare the delivery orders. Normally my work starts at 7 in the morning. I have to leave my house at 6:15 in the morning to arrive at my work. They give me half an hour to eat for my lunch. Regularly in the season I leave at 6 and I arrive at my house at 6:45. I do not receive any overtime pay. I work regularly 60 hours per week. I do not receive any insurance nor compensation, the only thing the farm has is a doctor in case of emergency.”

From Olivia:

In the summer I start at 7am seven days a week. I don’t rest, not even on holidays. Not one day of rest when my kids were on vacation. I don’t receive overtime pay for working more than 40 hours. I do not receive medical insurance and if I get hurt at work I have to take care of myself. 

There are many more stories, including ones of sexual harassment, refusal to treat serious injuries from accidents, and extreme working conditions. There is also information on how, if you wish, you can contact your state representatives to ask them to support the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act.