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