I have to admit, these people never cease to amaze me.
Former Rural and Migrant Ministry intern Louise Wu stated:
"Dear Gov. S.,
Congradulations on your victory! Please be sure to bring equal rights to all working people in NY State, including the farmworkers. They deserve the same things that all working New Yorkers expect--a day of rest, sick time, the minimum wage. These are the people who put food on our tables. Their labor feeds us--every day. Please don't forget about them. They deserve a place at the table along with everyone else doing an honest day's work in New York."
1. Does your call Louise for "all" workers having "equal rights" (ie: end the handul of labor exemptions) include the workers of non-profits, especially religious organizations and institutions?
I'm sure Louise's response would be, "no, those exclusions, including the tax exclusions that we alone benefit from, are okay."
2. Uhm, the seperate state minimum wage order for agricultural employees ended in 2000. So, farmworkers are covered regarding the minimum wage. Further, the lowewr minimum wage that existed prior to 2000 wasn't a prevailing wage. Even the NY Daily News admitted at the time the average wage for farmworkers in NYS was above $7.00. And as I have stated repeatedly here the current average wage according to relevant federal statistics is above $9.00.
Is the former RMM intern that clueless or is spreading baldface misinformation? Neither answer is very palatable.
When the NYS legislature ended the separate minimum wage order for agricultural workers late in 1999 (signed into law by Governor Pataki in 2000) an unintended consequence occurred. It seems the NYS legislature wasn't aware that agricultural workers weren't the only workers with a separate state minimum wage order. At the time separate minimum wage orders existed for a number of industries and employees in New York, including the hospitality industry, household/domestic workers, taxicab drivers, non-profit making institutions (including employees of RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS/INSTITUTIONS), amongst others. (By the way, as even the New York Daily News acknowledged in it's series written at the time about the farmworker issue, the separate minimum wage for farmworkers wasn't a prevailing wage. The Daily News acknowledged twice, in pieces written on 8/1/99 and 11/17/99, "the average wage for field hands (in NYS) is $7.20 an hour.") When the increase was passed increases also were passed for the far more (than farmworkers) waiters and waitresses that work in NYS. That increase though never was seen by those workers. As Andrew Hsiao pointed out in his article "Stiffed! State Legislature Slices Waiters’ Minimum-Wage Raise " which appeared in the April 12 - 18, 2000 edition of the Village Voice:
"The Democratic-led New York State assembly passed a bill cutting back a minimum-wage increase for tipped workers in restaurants and bars. The bill was quickly approved by the Republican-dominated State Senate and signed by Governor George Pataki on March 31, leaving labor activists steaming."
"Enter the state's powerful $14.2 billion restaurant industry, which launched an intense lobbying campaign that culminated in the last-minute assembly bill. The legislation, shepherded through the assembly by speaker Sheldon Silver and labor committee chair Catherine Nolan, capped the tipped workers' minimum at $3.30. Mario Cilento, a spokesperson for the state AFL-CIO, says, 'It's unfathomable that they would go to all this trouble to deny these low-wage earners 20 cents an hour.' Worse, adds the Immigrant Rights Clinic's Chakshu Patel, the bill unhooked the tipped workers' minimum from the general minimum, meaning, she says, that 'if other workers get a raise in their minimum wage, restaurant workers won't. Instead, they'll have to fight a new and separate battle to increase their wages every time the general minimum is increased in the future.'"
Queens Assemblywoman Nolan has been one of the most vocal proponents of self-appointed farmworker advocate proposed legislation over the years. I will note though that she probably has far more waiters and waitresses living in her district in Queens than farmworkers and farmers. I don't know if my (and others from upstate) objections to her positions (in respect to the fact she has virtually no firsthand knowledge or experience or real understanding in regards to agriculture and agriculture issues but has no problem pontificating about it) constitutes "agricultural exceptionalism." I will argue though that Nolan's callous move to backpedal on her minimum wage increase legislation in order to maintain the lower minimum wage "exclusion" for waiters and waitresses, so as to appease the powerful restaurant lobby, smacks of rank hypocrisy and cynical politics.
3. Once again, FARMERS put food on our tables. Farmworkers are an important element of the process but FARMERS are primarily responsible for putting food on our tables.
The Rev. K. Jeanne Person stated:
"Dear Governor-Elect Spitzer, NY labor law excludes farmworkers from many rights guaranteed to the majority of other workers,
including a day of rest, overtime pay, and protection when bargaining
collectively. In your wider effort to bring hope, wholeness, and moral balance to NY, you could support fairness in the labor laws through the establishment of new farmworker rights. As one who voted for you, I am delighted by the vision-action you are bringing to NY, and I offer my prayers and best wishes for you as governor."
Ah, still another minister/priest/shaman/witch doctor/pastor weighs in, with more blatant hypocrisy and misinformation.
1. Once again, also "excluded" are the employees of religious institutions, who are "excluded" from overtime pay and whose employers not only not encourage but in many if not most cases work to CRUSH any collective bargaining/union activity from taking place with their employees.
Once again I urge all to read the following recent NY Times articles by Diana B. Henriques: As Exemptions Grow, Religion Outweighs Regulation (10/8/06); Where Faith Abides, Employees Have Few Rights (10/9/06); Religious Programs Expand, So Do Tax Breaks (10/10/06); Religion-Based Tax Breaks: Housing to Paychecks to Books (10/11/06).
Have you read those articles Rev.? If not I can e-mail them to you.
2. When you state this "in your wider effort to bring hope, wholeness, and moral balance to NY, you could support fairness in the labor laws through the establishment of new farmworker rights" obviously the primary if not entire basis for your position is one of morality. It's not based on production and marketing relaities or any sort of other reality. It's not based on the facts. It's based on the argument that your position is "moral" or "just" and the counter-position is not.
How does one take that position when it is blatantly obvious that you are blathering hypocrites? The "exclusions" are "unjust" and anyone opposed to their agenda is deemed "unjust" or somehow morally unfit, right? I find this to be a very disturbing rhetorical tactic. Who said you get to decide which "exclusions" are okay? Who assigned these organizations with the authority and responsibility to be the final arbiter of which exemptions to our civil and/or criminal codes are "just?" It seems to me that it's that kind of smug, self-righteous and arrogant attitude of people thinking that they know what's "just" and anything that's opposed to them isn't, which similarly dominated the minds of the individuals that flew those planes into those buildings on 9/11. Their outright hypocrisy regarding these issues for their own industry's employees makes their public dictates to agriculture even more appalling.
I, and many others don't cede this moral authroty to you and the rest and your hypocrisy on this issue, as well as your continued spreading of outright distortions and misinformation negates whatever claims of being legitimate morality deciders you could actually claim with a straight face.
3. Finally, when you said "as one who voted for you, I am delighted by the vision-action you are bringing to NY, and I offer my prayers and best wishes for you as governor" does this mean the invisible guy in the sky backed Mr. Spitzer?
If so, do you know if the "big guy" is taking the Jets this Monday night and did he tell you if they are going to cover the spread? My prayers are with them!
When will these people cease spreading these distortions and misinformation and address the hypocrisy?
Finally RMM has claimed to have spent, from 1996 through 2004, $1,084,989 on providing for the "religious needs of the migrant farmworker community" on their annual 990 tax returns. I can't find a single example in all of the materials by and about them of a religious based or centered program. NOT ONE EXAMPLE. Witt in fact (in his literature and at Encuentro 2000) has dissed those sorts of programs ("And therefore there were not going to be any arguments about how to say the creed, or how you were going to do this prayer or that prayer, that the focus was on empowerment and advocacy, being present with farmworkers....").
The next time you get your marching orders from Rev. Witt why don't you ask him for me what that nearly $1.1 million dollars was really spent on?
- Submitted by Chris Pawelski on 12.17.06