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Assemblyman Hawley speaks against reduction of farm laborer overtime

By Press Release
Jan 7, 2022, 6:11pm

Press Relase:

​Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) spoke Wednesday during the Farm Laborers Wage Board’s hearing on a proposed reduction of the farm laborer overtime threshold, speaking passionately against the proposed reduction. During his testimony, Hawley described in detail why such a reduction would be perilous to the existence of farms throughout New York state and why the proposal would be harmful to the farm workers its proponents intended for it to help.

“Farms cannot operate on a less than 60-hour work week, and the failure to recognize that
fact will lead to the loss of our beloved family farms and all the jobs they provide,” said Hawley.

Signs point to tighter labor market in Genesee County

By Howard B. Owens
Apr 26, 2017, 12:45pm

The number of people in Genesee County who are part of the labor force dropped by 800, from 29,800 in March 2016 to 29,000 this March.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

It could be a sign of a tightening labor market.

In fact, the county's unemployment rate year-over-year fell from 5.4 percent to 5.1 percent even as the total number of county residents fell from 28,200 to 27,500.

At the county level, not all employment statistics are available, but on a national level, the number of prime-age workers in the labor force has been steadily increasing since 2011, when the percentage of 25-54-year-olds in the national labor market was 75.1 percent. This march, the number it 78.5 percent, which still isn't as high as the pre-recession level of 80.2, but a marked improvement.

Tammy Morino, an economist with the Department of Labor in Rochester, said the two trends -- growing number of prime-age workers in the labor market and declining labor force participation could mean we are at or near full employment.

The 800 labor force drop in Genesee County could be explained mostly by more Baby Boomers aging out of the workforce, and whereas those retiring workers were replaced in recent years by prime-age workers re-entering the workforce, there just aren't as many workers sitting on the sidelines these days.

"It's not a phenomenon unique to the county," Morino said. "We're seeing it across the nation, the aging out of the labor force."

More than 30 percent of Genesee County's workers commute to either Rochester or Buffalo, and Morino said Monroe County has added 30,000 new jobs since the end of the recession.

The number of non-farm jobs in Genesee County held steady year-over-year at 21,900, still below the pre-recession peak of 22,900.

The idea of a tight labor market in Genesee County also fits with what Scott Gage, director of the Job Development Bureau, is seeing at his agency. The year started off with about 400 people locally re-entering the labor force, he noted, and in March, 100 people who had been drawing unemployment found work, he said.

"We’ve got a lot of jobs," he said. "We just ran the list yesterday, there are 760 jobs just in Genesee County. Some of those are seasonal jobs, but that's a lot of jobs."

According to state data, there are 1,500 people in Genesee County who are part of the labor force but do not have jobs.

To an economist, the concept of "full employment" doesn't mean at any given moment every single working-age person has a job -- because there is always some flux involved in changing jobs, changing job circumstances, changing seasonal jobs or other factors, such as workers holding out for better jobs or better pay, that put people temporarily out of work -- but that enough jobs are available to employ all those who want jobs.

"The biggest problem we're having is finding people who are willing work," Gage said. "Most of the people who were able to come back into the labor force are finding job opportunities and now there are more opportunities than available workers."

Wage data for the county is available only on a quarterly basis and the third quarter of 2016 is the most recent available data. Total quarterly wages in:

  • Q3, 2016, $227,365,299
  • Q3, 2015: $217,005,273
  • Q3, 2014: $213,124,736
  • Q3, 2013: $203,875,721
  • Q3, 2012: $193,643,054
  • Q3, 2011: $203,179,005
  • Q3, 2010: $192,917,830
  • Q3, 2008: $182,668,038
  • Q3, 2007: $191,733,289

More jobs, more unemployed in Genesee County, according to November 2012 labor stats

By Howard B. Owens
Dec 27, 2012, 4:33pm

There are more jobs in Genesee County, but a higher unemployment rate locally, according to statistics released today by the Department of Labor.

In November 2012, there were 29,300 jobs in the county, compared to 29,000 a year ago.

However, the county's unemployment rate went up slightly year-over-year from 7.3 percent to 7.4 percent. That translates into 2,400 people counted as unemployed in November 2012 compared to 2,300 a year ago.

Rochester's unemployment rate went from 7.2 percent to 7.4 percent and Buffalo also saw an increase from 7.5 to 7.9 percent.

Orleans County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state at 10.1 percent.

Union issues last minute appeal for more negotiations with county

By Howard B. Owens
Mar 10, 2010, 2:00pm

A spokeswoman for the union that represents most county workers issued a statement this afternoon asking the County Legislature to table a resolution on tonight's agenda to freeze county employee pay.

Lynn Miller writes:

The legislature is expected to vote on the terms and conditions of the contract tonight following failed mediation and a fact-finding recommendation rejected, in part, by the union. CSEA had asked the county to return to the table to fine tune the fact-finding report. In addition, the union provided several alternatives for the county’s consideration.

“The fact-finding decision brought the two parties a bit closer, and with further talks an acceptable agreement may have been reached,” said CSEA Genesee County Unit President Debby Long. “We are disappointed the county manager turned down both our request to negotiate and the alternatives we offered."

Throughout negotiations, the county’s negotiator has asked for CSEA to agree to a “second tier” wage scale. The new scale would cut 10 percent from the salaries of newly hired county workers. CSEA considers that to be the major sticking point.

“Creating a second tier wage scale does little more than drive a wedge between employees,” Long said. “The county didn’t suggest any other union agree to the second tier. We do not believe it is in the best interest of the membership.”

'Farm Death Bill' could come up for Senate vote tomorrow

By Howard B. Owens
Sep 9, 2009, 3:28pm

The New York Senate will be in session tomorrow and Majority Leader Pedro Espada is apparently looking to score points with New York City labor unions -- he's calling for passage of what upstate legislators call "the farm death bill."

The bill, the Farmworkers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill, AB 1867, has already passed the Assembly.

If it becomes law, the bill will require farmers to pay time-and-a-half for over time, allow farm workers to join labor unions and require a day off during harvest season. It will also require farmers to pay into the unemployment system, among other provisions.

The bill is sponsored by Catherine Nolan, who represents Queens. Assemblyman Steve Hawley once pinned her down during a floor debate into admitting that in her district contains "less than one farm."

Sen. Mike Ranzenhofer plans to vote Nay if the bill does come to a vote. He said even upstate farm workers he's spoken with are concerned that passage of the bill will cost them their livelihoods.

"They are alarmed about the bill," Ranzenhofer said. "They're concerned about losing their jobs because farms will be going out of business."

Area farmers and farm workers alike tell both Hawley and Ranzenhofer that many of the issues the bill is trying to address is already taken care of by farmers. Most farmers do supply workers with adequate housing and health care. Workers are paid for all the hours they work, but not necessarily time-and-a-half. Because farm work is seasonal, the legislators note that a great deal of work must be packed into a short amount of time.

But by mandating such services, allowing labor unions to get involved and increasing government oversight, the bill will drive up costs on farmers tremendously.

The supporters of the bill just don't understand farming and that without farms, there is no food, both Hawley and Ranzenhofer say.

"The sponsors are from New York City," Ranzenhofer said. "They don't understand that the relationship between farmers and workers is mutually beneficial. This is a New York City union issue and really has nothing to do with farming in Upstate New York."

It's unclear just how the Senate will vote on the measure. It could go either way.

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