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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some Good Press for Espada -- No Joke!

In its editorial today, the Daily News gives State Senator Pedro Espada rare props for confronting an agribusiness company, Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which reportedly force-feeds ducks and subjects its workers to "horrendous conditions."
The Daily News has long campaigned for giving farm workers the right to organize and bargain collectively. The right to organize, though apparently enshrined in the state constitution, does not apply to farmworkers
Espada showed up at the farm on Friday and cell phoned the owner to berate him for the conditions on the farm and to tell him that the state was going to pass a law making his life more difficult.
The News and other of the city's daily media were on hands when Espada told the owner that the legislature was going to ge Fair Labor Practices Act on the Sept. 10 legislative calendar.
The News still calls Espada the "traitor who flipped the Senate twices this summer," adding, "But on this issue, on farmworkers' rights, Espada is on the side of the angels."


  1. I am not surprised that the Daily News backs this legislation (workers rights and unions are a good thing), but I am also not surprised that Senator Espada took an opportunity to use this issue for some positive publicity.

    I haven't read the legislation myself, but folks from the eat-local-food-world don't seem as sure that the legislation has in mind the best interests of small NY State farmers or seasonal workers. Just Food's take on the issue- posted below- expresses concern about the one size fits all nature of the bill.

    I hope that Senator Espada will spend as much time and energy teasing out the nuances of this issue and the impact it will have on small local farmers as he does trying to get publicity.

    Food Policy Alert: The Farm Workers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill

    A controversial labor bill that is now in the NY state legislature, The Farm Workers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill, would grant basic labor rights to New York State's agricultural workers. On June 8th it passed the state Assembly 85 to 57, and is now in the state Senate.

    The bill would establish an 8-hour work day for agricultural workers and employers would pay workers overtime. The bill would grant workers one day of rest per week during the harvest season, permission to form unions, and access to workers' compensation and unemployment benefits. Employers would also have to meet certain health standards
    in the living and working conditions they provide to laborers. For laborers that have been easily exploited due to a desperate need for work, it seems this will provide them with adequate protection.

    On the other hand, workers that depend on their seasonal farm job and do so in fair and healthy conditions may find this detrimental to their livelihood. The cost of paying overtime would be too expensive for most farmers, and therefore they would have to decrease the amount of hours normally given to workers. Because laborers will not be able to live on the limited income due to certain restrictions based on this bill, New York farmers feel it will drive many farm workers out of state. Paying more for their workers along with benefits such as unemployment will also raise the price of produce and thus a decrease in sales. As a result, small New York farmers are worried a hike in prices will make it unable for them to compete with larger farms from across the country. Farmers have flooded the legislature with calls and visits over their concerns. Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau and a dairy farmer from Batavia, said, "This bill completely ignores that farming is a seasonal business...It is sponsored by New York City legislators, and backed by special interest groups, who don't even represent real farm workers."

    The more we investigated The Farm Workers Omnibus Labor Standards Bill, the apparent benefits and also downfalls of this bill seemed to be unclear. Farm labor is a complicated situation in itself; to create a bill that will encompass all the farms in New York, each so unique in its ways, seems to add confusion. As a result, we will be following this bill's progress and will keep you updated as we gain more perspective on the situation. In the meantime, you can read the full text of the bill at: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A01867

  2. Espada needs some good press and he discovered an issue outside of his urban district. There are plenty in his district e.g. tenants rights, affordable housing, mass transportation. On these he has aligned himself with building owners and commuters, not with his constituent who are overwhelmingly renters and users of mass transportation. He's fishing for anything to make him look good, better than the carpet bagger he really is.

    His office is open at Fordham Plaza - someone is answering the phone. There's only one problem; from the map on his website, the office appears to be out of his district. Not surprising at all...if he doesn't live in his district, it follows that his office doesn't have to be in it.

  3. What happen Mr. Johnson I think that you are not going strong enough on that clown espada that make believe for those that think that he is the senator of the 33rd senetorial district. What going on you mean to tell me that any bozo could run and get elected to office. Come on this guy is taking the law like a game. What happen to his financial disclosure for his last election and where is the justice in this matter when Mr. Espada don't even leave in his district what is taking Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Johnson to take this matter into there hand. This guy keeps playing game and Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Johnson if they are planning to seek office they better go by the law and put this crook away. Cause that is what he is. He got staff from his clinic working for him and even his uncle Mr. Juan Feliciano. There are so much evidence on this guy that I think that the prosecutor are affraid of him. You guys go after minor things why don't you star to do right by the citizen of this state do your work and put this guy away. Even a blind person could see what Mr. Espada is about

  4. Not only is Espada clearly a self-serving political hack, the Daily News story was a piece of crap yellow journalism. Anyone apart from the PETA extremists who has visited Hudson Valley farms knows they treat their workers well (they've been there for many years), and their ducks too.

    It's a sleazy ploy to try to link the farmworker issue with the foie gras controversy just to try to get more airplay.

    We know that newspapers are all now understaffed, but c'mon: do your homework.

  5. My name is Chris Pawelski and I am a 4th generation onion farmer from Orange County, NY. I have done extensive research on this legislation and the organizations that have primarily promoted it.

    Here are some links regarding this issue:





    Link above for an online version of my recent Onion World article. It starts on page 10.


    (read my comments under my user name to see what really happened vs what this clown spreads.)

    The following Yahoo Group has 3 files I uploaded which people may find of interest in regards to this topic.

    The first titled "A Farmer's Response" is a response to a presentation/portion of an RMM Board member's dissertation that really explains the history and background of these self-appointed advocate organizations.

    The second "RMM Terror" is a copy of a shameless fundraising card sent out in November of 2001 by Rev. Witt for fundraising purposes that attempted to cash in on 9/11 by claiming over and over again farmworkers are "terror" victims.

    The third "Witt depo+ 990" is a portion of Witt's deposition where he testified his income for his work with RMM is "roughly $19,000" and RMM's 990 filings from 96-00 which reported his income as far above. It seems pretty obvious that either during his depo or on his tax returns he committed perjury.


  6. Here is another link:


  7. What are the motives of the Daily News in regards to their crusade? Is it concern for the downtrodden? Hardly. During a speech at Encuentro 2000, Richard Witt, the ego-driven Executive Director of the self-appointed farmworker advocate organization, Rural and Migrant Ministry stated:

    “And then the New York Daily News, which is New York's largest circulation newspaper, uh took this on. As the editor said to me, uh, he said, this is really important to us. And I said why? And he said well, I think we can get a Pulitzer out of this.”

    They didn’t win a Pulitzer for their misleading “Harvest of Shame” series, or win any other award that I was able to contact, and share the facts regarding the misinformation found in their series, before the award was given.

    And though they received a Polk award when I later contacted the manager of that award and shared with him information how factually incorrect and misleading their series was he was mortified. Read my comments for the NY Daily News editorial "The right row to hoe: State Senate must give long-overdue protections to New York farm workers" for more details regarding these misleading self-appointed advocates and their agenda and activities.


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