Flickr/Daniel Arauz

Issues Labor

After several months of radio silence, Albany County Supreme Court Judge Richard McNally has decided to allow the New York Farm Bureau to defend a farmworkers’ rights lawsuit in place of Governor Cuomo and Attorney General Schneiderman.

Governor Cuomo declined to defend the lawsuit.

Back in May, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) sued the state of New York for farmworkers’ rights to collective bargaining. Here’s our explainer on the convoluted history of that 80-year battle.

Governor Cuomo declined to defend the lawsuit, signaling that he agreed with the NYCLU. Judge McNally’s decision means the Farm Bureau will assume the role of defendant in place of the state.

In a press release on Monday, the Farm Bureau said it was “extremely pleased.” Bureau president Dean Norton added that “the court’s decision will allow our grassroots organization to vigorously push back against labor activists who seek to impose their will on family farms across the state.” The Bureau has motioned to have the case dismissed.

The NYCLU did not object to the Farm Bureau’s involvement in the case. In a press release on Monday,  lead counsel Erin Beth Harrist offered a statement. “For all the Farm Bureau’s powerful lobbying, the law is unconstitutional and we believe the courts will have no choice but to agree.”

H. Claire Brown

Claire Brown is a staff writer for The New Food Economy focusing on food policy and the environment. Her reporting has won awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York and the New York Press Club. She is based in Brooklyn. She can be reached via email at claire.brown@newfoodeconomy.org or on Twitter at @hclaire_brown.

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