March for Farmworker Justice!

The road to fairness for farmworkers starts in Suffolk County.

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“Farmworkers are the most important workers in every country because they’re the ones producing the food for the country.”

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This May 15 through June 1, a coalition of farmworkers and allies in New York is marching to draw attention to the unequal standing of farmworkers under labor law. While workers in all industries currently face more barriers than ever in realizing their labor rights, farmworkers have less recourse under the law. In the 1930s when the Fair Labor Standards Act passed into Law, farmworkers and domestic workers were left behind. Their exclusion was not an accident. Senators and Congressmen, mostly Democrats from the South, spoke openly on the floor about not wanting the two industries primarily composed of the children and grandchildren of slaves to have the same rights as white workers. To this day, the majority of states have not passed laws to remove exclusions, which include the rights for overtime pay, a day of rest, and collective bargaining.

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The 200-mile March for Farmworker Justice from the east end of Long Island to Albany supports the passage of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act (A4762/S1291) in New York State. The March will amplify the voices of farmworkers who want equal treatment under the law.JFFW-Logo

“The owners of the farm are the landlords — the owners of the housing,” Boris Martinez, a farmworker from a nursery in Patchogue, said through translator Katia Chapman in a phone interview Tuesday. Martinez is from El Salvador and has worked at the nursery for about two years, he said. “The owners only care that the housing is okay when inspection is going to come. They don’t care what state the housing is in, what condition the housing is in. It’s most likely that there will be at least 10 people living there.

“None of the workers are paid overtime pay. None of us have health insurance and if we get sick we don’t have the resources to pay for basic medical care. I know a lot of other workers in the area and none of them are paid overtime pay. Many of us don’t have a day of rest either. I’m right now working about 60 hours a week but when the weather warms up I’ll probably be working 67 or 68 hours.”

“Those in power, they don’t care how we’re doing as workers, what they care about is the money that we’re producing for them.”

“I’m participating in the march because even though, as I said, I like my job, I also see my friends, my companions that they are not always treated well,” Jose Ventura, a farmworker from Guatemala, said in a phone interview Tuesday through Chapman as a translator. “On their farms they’re not always paid fairly. There’s a lot of Guatemalan farmworkers and some of them are mistreated in the job and while I feel that this march is for the benefit of my people, therefore I feel motivated to be a part of the movement.”

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My FARE Increase

If YOU could decide, what would you want YOUR additonal 25¢ to go to? 

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Stephanie Sapiie, Professor

That is the question the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union has been asking Nassau bus riders.
On September 1st, Nassau County and NICE Bus will be imposing a 25¢ fare increase on cash paying customers as one solution to help fill NICE Bus’ $3.3 million budget shortfall. Does anyone else smell a bailout? Nassau County and NICE Bus have also agreed to chip in, but do not be fooled by this gesture – the buses have needed more money since 2012 and Nassau has not delivered! To top it all off, with little to no public notice, Veolia (NICE Bus operator) held two virtually INACCESSIBLE public hearings with barely any riders’ present. Without any public support, a fare increase was approved, and Nassau County and NICE bus have decided that bus riders should be the ones to pick up the tab and bail them out.
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Mary Frances, Nassau Community College Student

This (un)fare increase comes with no improvements to bus service, yet riders are expected to pay, and for what?!
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Anonymous Rider, Mother of Three

As a response, the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union launched the “My FAIR Increase” Campaigndemanding that Nassau County and NICE Bus give bus riders a public thank you for bailing them out! Aaron and Kimberly will be visiting bus terminals and bus stops until September 2nd to speak with riders about what they want their 25¢ to pay for (see the pictures). We will deliver these demands to NICE Bus on September 2nd, the day after the implementation of the fare increase, where we will demonstrate outside of the NICE Headquarters (700 Commercial Avenue, Garden City) at 6:30PM. We will also visit Nassau County officials on September 8th at their legislative meeting (1550 Franklin Avenue, Mineola) at 1PM (see flyer below for details).

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Simja Bezalel, Medicaid Service Coordinator for the Disabled

Please join us on September 2nd and the 8th as we tell Nassau County and NICE Bus that if they want our money then they need to listen to US, the riders!
Aaron Watkins-Lopez
Organiser
Long Island Bus Riders’ Union

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

BRU September Actions

 

Huge Victory for Bus Riders!

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Late this evening, the Suffolk County Legislature unanimously passed the Sunday bus service bill! This is a huge victory for bus riders and will not only create more service for people who rely on public transportation, but will also be a boost to our local economy. For those of you who have union members who ride buses, or for our brothers and sisters at TWU Local 252 who drive the buses, this is a huge victory for our labor movement. The passage of the bill is the result of the work of many organizations, but we specifically need to acknowledge the hard work of our partner, Tri-State Transportation Campaign for their smart advocacy on this issue, and Legislator Jay Schneiderman for relentlessly advocating for Sunday bus service for years.
Not only did the bill pass through the legislature, but it passed unanimously. Suffolk County legislators understand the need to support working people on Long Island, and we couldn’t be more happy. We will continue our advocacy work in Suffolk County for serviceexpansions and increased state funding, but we want to take a moment and celebrate this important victory.