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May 21, 2016 - 3:57pm

Hawley & coalition slam Cuomo's plan to allow farmworker unionization

posted by Billie Owens in steve, hawley, farmworkers rights, agriculture, business, news.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) joined Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R,C) and a coalition of lawmakers speaking out against the governor’s decision to not fight a lawsuit relating to the unionization of farmers. The governor’s decision to not defend the complaint, filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union in the State Supreme Court, effectively endorses unionization of farmworkers in New York State, a policy that those in the agriculture community say is not wanted or necessary. In fact, due to the individual climate and environmental concerns of each state affecting their growing season, the federal government specifically excluded farmworkers from the National Labor Relations Act in 1935.

“As the former owner of our family-owned farm, former Genesee County Farm Bureau President and having served on the Assembly’s Agriculture Committee since I was elected in 2006, I can attest to the daily struggles of our farm community. The governor’s decision to support unionized farm labor, coupled with a $15 an hour minimum wage, will be absolutely devastating to Western New York’s agriculture industry,” Hawley said.

“For decades our communities have been crushed by the state’s economic policies and the unionization of farmers will only push our family farms closer to the brink,” said Nojay. “Throughout his tenure Gov. Cuomo has demonstrated a total lack of respect for Upstate’s economy by repeatedly pushing policies, from GMO labeling to the $15 minimum wage, that have had a disastrous effect on our family farms and agricultural communities. The efforts by these wealthy labor unions will not only kill businesses and family farms but continue the exodus of Upstate families to less economically oppressed regions of the country. Agriculture is the foundation of our state’s entire economy and we must give our farming families and communities the attention and support they deserve.”

“Here in Western New York, farmers work extremely hard to develop positive and long-lasting relationships with their farm hands and seasonal workers. Unionization would only add another level of bureaucracy to a system that is not broken, and further complicate the ability of our state’s small family farms to succeed,” said Assemblywoman and Minority Leader Pro Tempore Jane Corwin (R,I,C-Clarence).

Assemblyman Marc Butler (R,C-Newport) said, “Leave it to New York City politicians to get it all wrong about agriculture and family farmers. Gov. Cuomo and others like him have done much to vilify the family farmer. Not only have he and the Assembly Majority increased the minimum wage and operating costs for these important rural job providers, now the governor is joining special interest groups that are trying to force family farms into unionized shops. I will work diligently to block any efforts from the governor or anyone else who tries to impose a New York City progressive agenda on our upstate family farmers.”

Assemblyman and Chairman of the Assembly Minority Conference Clifford W. Crouch (R-Bainbridge), a former dairy farmer, said, “To say that this would be devastating to our farming industry would be an understatement. Over the years it has become very clear that advocates of unionizing farm workers, who predominantly have downstate interests, neither understand the relationship farmers have with their employees nor the negative repercussions this would have on our small family farmers. I have visited and spoke to many farm employees across the state – from Buffalo to the North Country, to the Southern Tier and Long Island.

"In those travels and to date, not one employee or farmer I have spoken to has expressed the need or desire for what is offered by unionizing their employees. With already tremendous expenses - including grain, feed, seed, equipment, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, property taxes, energy expenses, and transportation – compounded with the recent minimum wage increase, how are family farmers expected to survive?

"Unionized farm employees may make sense for states like California that have a year-round growing season, but not in New York. Let’s call it what it is: a money grab by organized labor and their political counterparts in state government to gain an extra 35,000-40,000 new members paying union dues. The government should not be telling family farmers how to operate, especially when its policies will lead to closures of those farms. When there are no farms left, what will be the cost of food and where will it come from?”

“Gov. Cuomo’s next chapter in his war on upstate seems to be financially crippling our family-owned farms. Farmers have just recently begun learning how to absorb a $12.50 minimum wage hike upstate and a cut to agriculture local assistance that New York City politicians slammed down their throats, and now they want to force union mandates on them,” said Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin (R,C,I-Troy).

Scott Chismar
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I really enjoy reading TheBatavian and find it to be quite informative on issues of local importance. However this is becoming more and more of a puff piece for Hawley's silly agenda.

This post is a press release and not a story. It seems to be more of a laughable "Fair and Balanced" report like the bog boys like to portray themselves. I see references to Hawley, Nojay, Corwin, Butler, Crouch, and McLaughlin. Where is anything from Cuomo or the NYCLU?

Again, I realize this is a press release and not a news story. However, if it is important enough for the readers of TheBatavian, maybe it should actually be a story instead of just another puff piece for Hawley and his anti worker agenda.

The kicker has to be the quote from Crouch. Isn't it amazing that in his discussions with Farmers, not a single one indicated the need or desire for a union? I am thinking the Fox that enjoyed his job guarding the hen house would say something very similar.

Come on TheBatavian, if a press release is worth space on line to be read, it is worth becoming a story and getting input from both sides of an issue.

George Richardson
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I love the argument most right wingers make against unions today. They say: I refuse to pay for corrupt union bosses who only support the liberal Democratic Party.
I say: If a union can get me a three dollar an hour wage increase and I have to kick back a dollar an hour in dues, I'm still up two dollars an hour. But to the dupes all that amounts to is: "fuzzy math."

George Richardson
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You know, advertisers on the Batavian could save a little money if they stopped buying advertisements and just wrote press releases instead.

Howard B. Owens
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Scott, our policy has been the same for eight years. We publish the press releases, clearly labeled as such, by our direct representatives (and others that are directly locally relevant.)

When Cuomo or anybody else puts out a press release that is locally relevant, we do and have published those verbatim. When Cuomo is in town, we cover it and give him ample space to have his say. Earlier in the week, his lieutenant governor was in town and we covered both of her public appearances. She is here more than any other statewide political figure and I'm not aware of us ever failing to cover her public appearances here.

Every small newspaper in the country publishes press releases, including our competition, sometimes rewritten, sometimes with minimal rewrites, sometimes not at all, and usually they slap a byline on it without telling readers it's really just a press release. We always are transparent about an item being a press release.

We believe in giving people a forum to have their say as transparently as possible. We trust readers are smart enough to recognize a press release for what it is and smart enough to use Google, just a click away, if they want to search out differing facts and viewpoints. We have neither the resources nor time to chase down every alternate view point and if that was the standard by which we should decide if something is published, a lot less things would get published and people would be even less informed.

If the NYCLU came to town, or any other group, and held a press conference or other pubic event, we would cover it as local news, giving their viewpoint a fair airing, but since they're not local, we won't publish their press releases, since the issue itself is not specifically local. It's a statewide issue and we're not a statewide news source. Other news organizations do a good job in that realm and I encourage people to seek out those sources.

George, advertisers are have always been welcome to send in newsworthy press releases, and many have. We provide quite a bit of news coverage to the local business community, and it's through the generous sponsorships of those businesses that we're able to provde them the best local forum to promote their businesses.

david spaulding
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back to the OP....... the cost to the farmer for increased wages will be passed on to the consumer as it should. now I want to know when the government is going to tell my boss I should be making a higher wage so I can afford to purchase the farmer's goods. I mean if wages go up 7,8,9 dollars an hour, shouldn't mine ? is somebody discriminating against me ?

George Richardson
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Howard, I still love you and the Batavian. Advertisers would be insane to ditch this venue, I read the menus and drool over the cool stuff I would do if I ever came back to Batavia again but I won't. Not even in a cardboard box, my body has already been donated to science so they can try to figure out why my brain is so much better than everyone else's. I think it is totally due to my superior blue genes. AKA dungarees.

George Richardson
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David, Farmers sell vegetables. who eats vegetables? How much more is it going to cost you, two dollars a year? Write it off on your taxes as a charitable donation to FarmAid.

George Richardson
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I know my many brothers in Batavia hate when I do this but it helps me to relax, until the night sweats come again.
Maybe I should eat more vegetables.

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