A dozen agricultural workers at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic were certified last month as the first farm workers union in New York State.
The state Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) certified on September 27 Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW to represent the vineyard’s 12 field workers following the 2019 passage of the Farm Laborers Fair Labor Practices Act, which grants agricultural workers the right to collectively bargain for the first time.
“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,” said John Durso, president of Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW, who added that “agricultural workers needed key protections that they have lacked for decades, including the right to join a union.”
Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW represents approximately 13,000 workers in a variety of industries statewide, including food retail, pharmaceutical retail, healthcare, human services, transportation, and medical cannabis.
“For far too long, farmworkers have worked to nourish our communities without necessary workplace protections for themselves or their families,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “It was a decades-long struggle to win farmworkers’ right to organize in this state, and now workers at Pindar Vineyards are seeing the seeds they planted come to fruition by becoming the first in the state to be recognized as a union. Now they can begin negotiating the first ever union contract for farm workers in New York.”
Labor leaders anticipate more farm workers will unionize as a result. Pindar did not respond to a request for comment. The workers celebrated their certification.
“My coworkers at Pindar and I joined Local 338 because we want dignity and respect,” said Rodolfo M., Local 338 RWDSU/UFCW member and worker at Pindar Vineyards. “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. We know that being a union member will help us get the recognition we deserve for all of our efforts.”