Wayne County, NY – After months of quiet organizing, the nearly 60 farm workers at Cherry Lawn Farm, an apple producer in Wayne County, New York, have filed to unionize with the United Farm Workers of America. A majority of Cherry Lawn’s workers have submitted authorization cards for union certification with the New York Public Employee Relations Board as of last week. The organizing unit at Cherry Lawn is made up almost entirely by H2A visa workers from Jamaica.
Unfortunately, the New York Growers’ ongoing lawsuit seeking to strip H2A workers from their rights under New York State law allowing agricultural workers to unionize aims to deny the workers at Cherry Lawn, along with the UFW-represented workers of 5 other New York companies, their right to a union. While the UFW is fully confident that the courts will ultimately uphold the constitutionality of H2A workers’ right to organize and join a union, this litigation currently leaves the workers of Cherry Lawn without the protections of the union they have organized for and to which they are entitled to by law. Cherry Lawn Farm’s owners – Todd and Tedd Furber – have already begun a retaliatory campaign of captive audience meetings to discourage the workers from continuing with their campaign. The UFW has filed a ULP charge against Cherry Lawn and the Furber brothers.
“No amount of legal maneuvering is going to change the basic facts: farm workers in New York want UFW representation,” said UFW Secretary-Treasurer Armando Elenes. “Todd and Tedd from Cherry Lawn have the opportunity to do right by the workers whose hands pick all the apples they sell. We call on the Furber brothers to voluntarily recognize the union and negotiate a fair contract with their workers.”