MORRISVILLE, N.Y. -- There are currently no laws in New York State mandating overtime for farm workers, but a controversial proposal in the state legislature could change that.
Some say the success of farms and rights of workers are balancing in a bill, the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act.
"We have to work collaboratively to find solutions that sustain our system of farming and our long term food security," said Senator Jen Metzger.
The act would include farmworkers on labor laws requiring overtime after they hit 40 hours in a work week.
They would also get at least one-day off a week and be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
"Nine years ago, New York ended the exclusion for domestic workers, but to this day they continue to oppress farmworkers," said the former executive director of the Labor-Coalition of New York State, Brian O'Shaughnessy.
Dozens came out to SUNY Morrisville on Thursday, discussing the act among fellow farm workers and politicians.
One of the main points of contention was about mandating overtime pay.
"Our only option would be to limit our workers to 40 hours, and facing decreased earnings, they have said they would leave," said E-Z Acres LLC Partner Michael McMahon.
"If we cut back to 40 hours and we can't afford to pay overtime, then our vegetable farms would need to bring in twice as many people to do the work," said New York Farm Bureau President David Fisher.
"We can also look at the impact that this will have on the farm worker. If they're able to get more money for overtime pay, they'll be able to contribute more to their local economy," said Justice for Farmworkers Legislative Coordinator Jose Chapa.
Some people said they don't agree with the bill as it is but they do agree with parts of it.
"We all support workers' rights, we all support good treatment for people that are putting in a good hard day's work for an operation, and I think there are other laws, other regulations, and other rules that would be able to address that," said Assemblyman John Salka.
Others said more discussions are needed.
"Right now the bill is out there. Do I support parts of it? I don't know. That's what this format is here for," said Assemblyman Brian Miller.
Some farmers said agriculture in Upstate New York is dependent on many variables, making it difficult to set certain regulations or laws in stone.
They believe certain parts of the bill would be better handled at the federal level. The bill is currently in the Assembly and Senate.
A few more hearings will be taking place throughout the state.