New York

Letters to the Editor for Sunday, April 14

Your Voice

State labor bill could severely hurt farmers

Farm workers deserve to be treated with respect, but the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act concerns me.

The economic realities facing family farms will make it difficult for many to survive the legislation’s impacts. Already, farms outside of New York produce food more cheaply, and the bill will widen that gap.

Net farm income is down by half this decade. We have lost about 20 percent of the state’s dairy farms in the past five years, including 280 just last year, according to the USDA.

Most New York farms already pay well above minimum wage to attract and retain quality employees. That’s in addition to providing housing, transportation and other benefits.

However, state lawmakers are looking to impose overtime on an eight-hour workday and 40-hour week, dramatically raising costs by $300 million, according to Farm Credit East. Where will that money come from when we can’t just raise prices in a competitive marketplace to recoup the loss? 

A unique schedule is why agriculture is historically excluded from providing overtime. Some long days are required, in part because of weather and a fickle growing season.

If farms can’t afford overtime, farm workers will lose hours and food will be left in the fields instead of going to market or a food pantry.

Farm Bureau supports some provisions of the bill, including a day of rest for employees. We also support a viable farm economy. 

Without that, rural New York, jobs on and off the farm, and access to local food will suffer.

Anne Vernooy



Teach kids respect to prepare for adulthood

I feel teaching your children respect starts at home. In my opinion, YouTube, movies, music and video games all seem to glorify a disrespectful, angry, rude way of dealing with others.

This means that in some ways, we have to work harder as parents to teach our children to be respectful.

Many parents feel they are losing the battle for respect to influence their children. It’s better to learn about matters relevant in this toxic culture in which we live or your children are doomed.

As parents, we should always try to do what is best for our children and do what is in their best interests, whether they like it or not.

However discouraged you may feel, you must continue to fight for the sake of your children.

This battle begins with respect. It’s important to remember that your children are not your friends; they are your children. Your job is to coach them to be able to function in the world. This means teaching them to behave respectfully to others, not just to you.

If you can teach your children to respect you, themselves and others when they are young, they’re likely to carry this value with them as they enter the real world. Then they’ll use it to become successful, happy, contributing adults.

If you can help them achieve this as a parent, then you have served your children well.

Walter “Neal” Brazell



Ellis should have put money into pensions

There have been several articles about the employees of St. Clare’s Hospital losing some or all of their pensions.

There is one point about this that I have not seen mentioned or discussed.

St. Clare’s and the Albany Catholic Diocese made the heart-wrenching decision to close the hospital. Clearly they lost.

The state contributed millions to get the funding updated at the time. 

Ellis Hospital was the immediate and long-term beneficiary of all the future revenue that flowed to them as a result of St. Clare’s closing.

Then it seems reasonable that Ellis should have been required to continue to contribute something to the fund or annuitize at least some of the St. Clare’s pension liability until the commitment to these employees had ultimately been met.

It seems logical that the cost should follow the revenue.

Bernard Burns


Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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