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Bill aims to grant Massachusetts farm workers state minimum wage

Farmer Caroline Pam's booth at the Greenfield Farmers Market, in 2014.
Nancy Eve Cohen
/
NEPM
Farmer Caroline Pam's booth at the Greenfield Farmers Market in 2014.

Massachusetts lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a bill proposing minimum wage and overtime protections for farm workers.

Springfield State Senator Adam Gomez, who proposed the bill, said farm workers get too little money and they're often forced to work long hours.

“This bill would eliminate the sub-minimum wages that farm workers receive of $8 an hour required for all farm workers receiving the current minimum wage of $13.50 an hour,” Gomez said.

Gomez said the bill would give farm workers an optional full day of paid time off, and seasonal farm workers would earn overtime pay after working a 55-hour week.

Pittsfield State Senator Adam Hinds, who is co-sponsoring the bill, said the food system is broken.

“We can do this in a way that doesn't sink farms. We can do this in a way that actually benefits farms in the long run and make sure that there's sustainable employment,” Hinds said.

The bill awaits a vote from the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

Nirvani Williams covers socioeconomic disparities for New England Public Media, joining the news team in June 2021 through Report for America.
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