Wednesday, February 08, 2017

UNITED STATES - Social Justice for 120,000 farm workers in the state of New York

During a press conference held yesterday at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, the capital of New York state, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Albany, His Exc. Mgr. Edward B. Scharfenberger, joined many lawmakers and farmworkers to ask for the approval of the law on "the right job practices for farmers", a bill which guarantees farmworkers the basic rights and protections that other workers in American society have. 

Mgr. Scharfenberger introduced himself as the son and grandson of immigrants, and explained that he captures both sides of the issue: his father had a small shop and his uncle was a farmer.

"The ethics of the Church and the fundamental human ethics are the same thing, they are linked. Therefore, my appeal is that we treat these farmworkers as we treat other workers in the State of New York, with the same dignity, simply because they are human beings. They are entitled to the same kind of protections that other workers in the State of New York have", said the Bishop.

The note sent to Fides from a local source, reports that farmworkers are essential for food production and are at the basis of a very rich sector in the business of the state. 

In Albany alone, for example, there are nearly 3,500 farms and 587,000 acres of farmland. 

Last spring, farmworkers, activists, religious leaders and students marched for 200 miles, from Smithtown, Long Island, to Albany, to draw attention to this problem. 

The march culminated in a demonstration outside the Capitol. Even Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Mgr. Scharfenberger attended the march. 

There are about 120,000 farmworkers in the state who work 60, 70, 80 hours a week, without a day off, and no sick pay, overtime or holiday.

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