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NY growers refuse to accept worker organizing law; File federal lawsuit to prevent workers from organizing 

It took years of fighting to get a law that would allow workers – including H-2A workers – to organize for a union contract. Due to blatant racism, farm workers were purposefully excluded from the National Labor Relations Act almost a century ago, the law which gives most workers the right to join unions. Because of this exclusion, they need to fight for this right state by state. They’ve had this right in California for decades and won the right to join unions in New York in 2019. 

Farmworkers in NY have been taking advantage of this new law and have won UFW representation at five NY farms representing nearly 500 farm workers. The UFW has so far won five certifications at: Wafler Farms (Wolcott, NY), Porpiglia Farms (Marlboro, NY), Cahoon Farms (Wolcott, NY), A&J Kirby Farms (Albion, NY), Lynn-ette & Sons Farms Inc. (Kent, NY). 

But, when it came to negotiating, growers decided to buy time for dirty tricks. Instead of bargaining fairly for a union contract, the growers filed a federal lawsuit trying to block workers from using the new law — reusing arguments that were previously denied by a judge at the NY Public Employee Relations Board. 

The NY Attorney General’s office put the worker victories in limbo until the lawsuit is heard and agreed to a temporary restraining order on using this law, all without talking to the UFW or workers. This means negotiations are on hold for  contracts for the elections that the workers have already won and leaves pro union workers hung out to dry. Already, at least one company decided not to recall various workers, which includes a large number of union supporters, next year

In addition to the five farms the UFW has been certified at, the UFW has filed to represent workers  with the majority of worker signed authorization cards at two additional farms.