MA lawmakers calling for wage increase, paid sick time for farmers

Boston Statehouse

BOSOTN (WWLP) – For years now Massachusetts farmers have been underpaid and forced to work long hours. This session lawmakers want to change that by giving agricultural workers access to services that most other members of the workforce already receive.

Currently, agricultural workers in Massachusetts earn just $8 an hour. They’re also asked to work all seasons with no required days off.

A bill before the Labor and Workforce Development committee would establish a framework where farmers receive minimum wage, paid leave, and compensation for overtime.

“Twice as many farm worker families now live in severe poverty as compared to other families,” Claudia Quintero, an attorney for migrant and season farm workers, argued.

While many of the people who testified in front of the committee on this bill spoke favorably about it, local farms argued that it could put them out of business.

Opponents told committee members that the bill would increase the cost of their products and the financial ramifications could be felt by consumers all across the state.

Committee members didn’t vote on the bill Tuesday however, they did have a robust debate on the issue. Supporters, including Springfield State Senator Adam Gomez, are hoping to see it reported out favorably before lawmakers break for the holidays.

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