Workers at a Long Island vineyard now have the power to organize.
On Sept. 27, twelve employees at the Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, New York had their right to organize certified by the New York State Public Employment Relations Board (PERB). The farm workers were certified Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW as the union to represent the workers.
Now, farm workers have the right to collectively bargain for a new deal. It’s the first union certification of farm workers under the recently passed Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which gave agricultural workers that right.
They’re the first agricultural workers to form a labor union in New York State.
“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,” stated Rodolfo M., Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member and worker at Pindar Vineyards. “We know that being a union member will help us get the recognition we deserve for all of our efforts.”
Passed in 2019, the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act “grants collective bargaining rights to farm laborers; requires employers of farm laborers to allow at least 24 consecutive hours of rest each week; provides for an 8 hour work day for farm laborers; requires overtime rate at one and one-half times normal rate;…”
Pindar Vineyards, according to their company’s website, produced Long Island’s first Syrah, a dark-skinned red grape that’s known for producing full-bodied wine. The vineyard’s owners also provide tours, live music, and a tasting room.
“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,” John Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, stated. “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.”
Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW filed to represent the Pindar field workers on May 28, 2021.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union said that the certification of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW was the result of a struggle that spans multiple decades and the Pinar Vineyards workers have grown.
It was a decades-long struggle to win farmworkers’ right to organize in this state, and now workers at Pindar Vineyards are seeing their seeds grow.
“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,” said Appelbaum. “…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.”
New York State Senator Jessica Ramos stated that it was about time that farm workers got the same rights as all other employees in the state.
“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,” stated 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.”