We held our second Human Rights Shabbat on Saturday, March 27. Created by the EMJC Social Action/Social Justice Committee (email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about joining), the service introduced us to the realities of farm life. The morning’s services focused on our obligations to our fellow human being, no matter who they are or where they come from with readings from the Torah, the Talmud, the sages, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then after lunch, a farm worker from Guatemala told us what it is like to be beholden to farm owners and farm labor contractors, without any legal protections. When he was sick, injured or made a complaint, he was usually fired.
Nathan Berger from the Rural & Migrant Ministry and Michael Aronson from the New York Daily News editorial board explained the history of the many attempts to obtain rights for farm workers, going back to 1910. To this day farm workers are not guaranteed a day off each week, nor overtime pay, nor Unemployment and Workers Compensation nor any collective bargaining rights! A new chance for righting these wrongs is pending in the New York State Senate and Assembly (The Farm Workers Fair Labor Practices Act).
Remember: Each one of us can be an advocate and a powerful voice for the migrant farmworkers in New York State. To take action on their fight for fair treatment, you can call our legislators, not just once, but every day and every week, and urge them to support Senate Bill 1291! Here are three ways you can tell your Senator and Governor Cuomo to bring this act to the floor for a vote: