Historic Certification For First Farm Workers Union In State

This is the first union certification in New York State after the 2019 passage of The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act,

Photos: RWDSU

(MINEOLA, NY) – On September 27, 2021, the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) certified Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW as the union to represent twelve agricultural workers employed at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, New York.

This is the first union certification in New York State after the 2019 passage of The Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which grants agricultural and farm workers the right to collectively bargain. Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, first filed to represent the vineyard’s field workers on May 28, 2021.

“My coworkers at Pindar and I joined Local 338 because we want dignity and respect. Our work should be valued and only by receiving equal treatment and things like sick days and paid time off to spend with our loved ones will it be. We know that being a union member will help us get the recognition we deserve for all of our efforts,” said Rodolfo M., Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member and worker at Pindar Vineyards.

“When New York passed the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, there was a fundamental understanding that agricultural workers needed key protections that they have lacked for decades, including the right to join a union. PERB’s historic certification is the next step in securing dignity and respect for the essential workers who ensure we have food and beverages on our tables. We are incredibly proud to represent the workers at Pindar Vineyards and are looking forward to securing a strong collective bargaining agreement,” said John Durso, President of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW.

“For the first time we can call farmworkers in New York State union members. For far too long, farmworkers have worked to nourish our communities without necessary workplace protections for themselves or their families. It was a decades-long struggle to win farmworkers’ right to organize in this state, and now workers at Pindar Vineyards are seeing the seeds they planted come to fruition by becoming the first in the state to be recognized as a union. Now they can begin negotiating the first ever union contract for farm workers in New York. The workers at Pindar Vineyards have made history and are the beginning of what we are sure will be a growing union presence for the state’s farmworkers,” said Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

“We welcome our first farmworker siblings into the labor family. The historic PERB certification means for the first time, and because of the passage of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, farmworkers will be part of a union that will give them the dignity and respect they deserve. This is the culmination of a decades-long fight centered upon one simple premise: that farm workers deserve fairness, equality, and justice. We are extremely proud of the efforts of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW. Congratulations to the farmworkers and Local 338 President John Durso on this historic achievement,” said Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO.

“When we corrected the labor law to give farmworkers the same basic rights as other workers in New York and rid our state of a Jim Crow sin, we dreamt of the day workers would answer the call to organize for better wages and working conditions,” said State Senator Jessica Ramos. “Welcome, Pindar Vineyards workers, to the labor family and congratulations on choosing RWDSU Local 338. You’re stronger together when negotiating a fair contract with your employer.”

“Congratulations to RWDSU Local 338 and its talented organizers and my longtime friend John Durso, in this great union victory for the people of our state,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan. “Our historic farmworkers rights legislation took a long time but thanks to the hard work of so many, especially New York’s AFL-CIO labor movement, important worker protections are finally beginning to happen.”

“This decision marks a significant step in the journey to achieve a seat at the table for our sisters and brothers. Decades ago, Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc. was asked by farmworkers to stand alongside them in their struggle to change the laws which denied them dignity. Today, we are proud to continue working with RWDSU 338 as they represent workers in negotiating fair and decent contracts. New York’s labor movement has done incredible work in the midst of very challenging circumstances. True justice for farmworkers is closer than ever,” said Rural & Migrant Ministry, Inc. Executive Director the Rev. Richard Witt.Local

338 RWDSU/UFCW proudly represents approximately 13,000 working men and women employed in a variety of different industries across New York State including, food retail, pharmaceutical retail, health care and human services, transportation, and medical cannabis. For more information, please visit our website at www.local338.org Facebook: /Local338 Twitter: @Local338

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