In my June radio segment with CyTUnidos, I spoke by phone with organizer Heriberto Gonzales about the Farm Worker’s campaign he is heading in Hudson Valley and his efforts to bring the campaign to the East End of Long Island.
Gonzales, who used to be a farm worker himself, said that the campaign has been fighting to pass a law that would grant agricultural workers basic labor rights that most other industries enjoy. The campaign is advocating for rights to a day off, overtime, protection from wage theft, and proper working conditions, such as access to bathrooms and drinking water on the farms.
Gonzales is very passionate about his work. He has seen farm workers being exploited without any protection. He shared a very alarming story about a female farmer whose daughter was born without limbs because, during her pregnancy, she had been exposed to pesticides on the fields without any caution or protection.
The Farm Worker’s campaign is seeking support from Long Islanders and their representatives, like Senator Dean Skelos for one, who has been blocking the bill. Gonzales explained that the East End is crucial in this fight because of the number of farms and wineries in the area.
As part of its efforts, the Farm Worker’s campaign is trying to collect stories, build relationships, and find allies on the East End. Gonzales reassured listeners that the campaign is not asking the workers to risk their jobs, but instead wants to offer them an open space of trust where they can tell their stories without fear of reprisal.
Here is the link for the complete interview in Spanish.