Jun 20, 2016
New York Farm Bureau seeks to intervene in labor lawsuit

New York Farm Bureau (NYFB) is seeking to intervene in a farm labor lawsuit filed against New York state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The farm organization will file a motion today in State Supreme Court of Albany County to gain intervenor status in a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union Foundation. NYCLUF seeks to create a constitutional right for farm workers to collectively bargain. The ultimate goal of NYFB is for the court to dismiss the lawsuit, according to a press release.

NYFB is taking this step to defend farmers, who feel they have been abandoned by the governor and state attorney general. Both leaders have made public statements supporting the lawsuit and refusing to defend state law, despite its importance to agriculture. NYFB believes it has the right to intervene because the interest of its members will not be represented by the defendants – the governor and attorney general – and the ability of the organization’s members to continue to produce food for New York residents would be harmed in the event the plaintiffs prevail in this action, according to the press release.

The motion reads, “Farm Bureau is uniquely situated to represent the varied perspectives of its member farms and to zealously defend the constitutionality of the challenged farm labor exemption.”

NYFB believes that the exemption of farm workers from collective bargaining rights is constitutional, and that the exclusion of farm workers from the State Labor Relations Act law is based on decades of rational public policy and legal precedent that will be outlined in NYFB’s motions to intervene and dismiss. The legal precedent is clear. This is not a question for the courts, and NYCLUF is attempting to make an end-run around the Legislature, which has not approved collective bargaining for farm workers despite numerous opportunities, according to the press release.

“New York Farm Bureau has a century-long record of defending the state’s family farms, and today’s action is one of the most important in our long history,” said Dean Norton, NYFB’s president. “If we can’t count on our state leaders to do the right thing in this case, we are prepared to stand up for our members in court to protect their rights.”

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