Who benefits from more overtime for farmworkers?

GHENT—The $220-billion state budget passed by the legislature April 9 triples the state’s commitment to its agriculture industry compared to the budget for the last fiscal year.

The farm owner advocacy groups New York Farm Bureau and Grow NY Farms praised the 2022-23 budget, which includes increased farm employer tax credits up to 118% of the cost for overtime hours worked. The budget also doubles tax credits to $1,200 per worker for farm employee retention. The groups’ official statements called the tax credits “unprecedented.”

But not everybody believes that government has done all it could. One thing still not clear is whether Governor Kathy Hochul will adopt a change sought by farmworker advocates. They want to see the adoption of a recommendation from the Farm Laborers Wage Board, passed in January by a 2-1 vote, which calls for a reduction in the threshold for overtime farmwork from the current 60 hours per week to 40 hours. The recommendation would be phased in over a 10-year period starting in 2024. Read more…

Yes, the grass is greener over here

The milk cows at the Hawthorne Valley Farm in Harlemville have been confined to their barn and its immediate yard since November. Each spring as the weather warms and the grass turns thick and green the cows are put out to pasture. Federal regulations require that organic dairy cows spend at least 120 days in pasture each year. This year the cows emerged from the barn on Friday, April 29. They looked thrilled as they ran, skipped and leaped down the lane to the field. It is a celebration for the children of the Hawthorne Valley School as well, who come out with their teachers to watch. The farm’s milking herd is approximately 60. Hawthorne Valley Farm cows do not have their horns trimmed as the cows on most other dairy farms do. Photo by David Lee

HCSD adopts ‘inclusivity,’ hears more’s needed

HUDSON—The City School District (HCSD) has joined other institutions and organizations in embracing people of a variety of preferences and descriptions. But students and others told about in-school bullying, prejudicial assumptions and discriminatory treatment based on race and ethnicity, at the Board of Education meeting April 26.

At the meeting, the board formally adopted the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity (DEI) Policy it has been working on for some time. Hudson Mayor Kamal Johnson, Common Council President Tom DePietro, First Ward Supervisor Claire Cousin, students and other community members attended. Some came to congratulate the board on the DEI policy. But some speakers placed more emphasis on the impending loss of minority teachers’ aides who lead certain after school activities.

The HCSD has funded these activities—which include games and puzzles and some visits to the Firemen’s Home—with the 21st Century Grant. For 2022-23, it applied for the grant, but did not get it, Superintendent Lisamarie Spindler reported regretfully. Therefore, the activities face termination. Read more…

Copake Fire Co. plans digital ‘marqee’

An example of what the Copake Fire District’s new electronic sign will look like. Image contributed

COPAKE—The old sign at the Copake firehouse will soon be replaced by a modern sign of the times.

Copake Deputy Fire Chief Randi Shadic and Copake Fire Company President Harold Jensen paid a visit to the Town Board at its April 14 meeting seeking funds to help pay for a new electronic sign to be displayed at 390 Center Hill Road in front of Copake Fire Company No.1.

The process for replacing the 30+ year old existing sign that requires someone to manually place black plastic letters on a white, lit-from-within, rectangular plastic surface, began a few years ago.

The fire company and the fire district moved forward in 2018 with getting the permits necessary to allow for a new sign, but never purchased one, Mr. Shadic told the board. Read more…

Hochul names Delgado Lt. Gov.

ALBANY—Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Tuesday, May 3, that she is appointing Representative Antonio Delgado (D-19th) to serve as Lieutenant Governor of New York.

“New Yorkers deserve a lieutenant governor who’s working day and night to make lives better for working people and their families,” Representative Delgado said in a press release about the appointment. “Upstate, downstate, doesn’t matter. We all want the same things, security, family, and opportunity. The key is to listen to New Yorkers from all walks of life and then be their voice to get the job done.”

The New York Times reported that Rep. Delgado will take the oath of office as Lieutenant Governor in the coming weeks. Read more…