The New York Farmworker: Hours, Wages & Injuries

Margaret Gray, PhD, Associate Professor of Political Science, Adelphi University 

Kelly Miller, UMass Amherst Labor Center 

Nina Donaldson, UMass Amherst Labor Center

This report is based on 530 surveys with New York State farmworkers on more than one hundred farms. This is the largest number of the state’s migrant, seasonal, and year- round farmworkers to participate in a single survey.

Historically, farmworker voices have been absent in public discussions of New York farmworker policy. The state’s farmworkers are generally not citizens—they are undocumented and guestworkers—so they have good reasons to hesitate before speaking up about problems related to their workplaces, particularly if their housing is tied to their jobs. Many farmworkers fear that their employer may retaliate against them by cutting their hours, firing them, illegally evicting them, or calling immigration authorities.2 This report foregrounds farmworkers’ experiences and opinions to help mitigate the absence of their voices in policy debates about their working conditions and wellbeing.

  • 19% of respondents reported a workplace injury that resulted in lost work time, with half of those respondents indicating they received no compensation.
  • 25% of respondents reported wage theft, noting that they did not receive their overtime wages. Starting in 2020, New York farms were required to pay overtime after 60 hours a week–prior to that, farmworkers did not have a right to overtime pay. 
  • The average hourly wage for farmworkers is $15.55.