EDITORIALS, New York Daily News
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Timothy Cardinal Dolan leads an invigorated group of Catholic bishops, eight strong, to Albany on Monday.
The bishops have more than a new leader at the helm. They have a new priority: For the first time, the prelates are asking the Legislature to grant equal labor rights to New York farm workers.
Great news. The condition of the men and women who grow and pick our food is a moral outrage.
Because of an accident — an insult, actually — of history, farm workers are, alone among all workers, denied the basic protections the rest of us take for granted in a modern economy.
They get no overtime pay. They are denied a day of rest. And they are not allowed to organize to pressure their employers for change.
This is all written right into the law, crying out to be fixed.
For more than a dozen years, this newspaper has demanded justice. The bishops have also been on the right side of the issue — but this is the first time it has cracked the top tier of their agenda.
Why? Because historic progress is in reach.
The Democratic Assembly has for years passed the bill, and Gov. Cuomo wants to sign it.
The catch is — has long been — the state Senate.
Manhattan Sen. Adriano Espaillat, a Democrat, is gathering co-sponsors. Long Island’s Carl Marcellino, a Republican, is on board as the numbers climb to the 32 needed for passage.
Majority Leader Dean Skelos must let his GOP members take a vote of conscience. That would allow Brooklyn’s Marty Golden and Staten Island’s Andy Lanza to do the right thing.
Joining Dolan and the church is the New York Civil Liberties Union; that ought to tell you something. Mayor Bloomberg and his sparring partners in labor, such as the city and state teachers unions and the AFL-CIO, are on board too.
Regardless of political persuasion, all realize: Those who grow and pick our food are not second-class people. They are our neighbors, entitled to equal protection under the law.