Congressman Zeldin Statement on NY Farm Laborers Wage Board Voting to Recommend Reduction in Overtime Threshold to 40 Hours

NEW YORK – Today, Congressman Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1), the Republican Party and Conservative Party nominee for Governor, issued the following statement after the New York Farm Laborers Wage Board voted 2-1 to recommend reducing the overtime threshold from 60 hours per week to 40 hours per week:

“Just when New Yorkers thought life couldn’t be any more difficult in the Empire State, Kathy Hochul has failed New York farmers once again. Time and time again, Hochul has refused to fight for hardworking farmers who feed millions of people every day, and now her deafening silence is dealing a final blow. 

Lowering the overtime threshold for farm workers from 60 hours per week to 40 hours per week will further burden New York’s hard working farmers and hinder their ability to get workers for their farms, and compete with other states for business. New York should have laws that benefit and help our citizens, not ones that hurt them and encourage people to do business elsewhere. 

“Whether it’s the supply chain crisis or the cost of inflation, energy, or more, the struggles of operating a farm have continued to be driven up. Think about the cost of utilities, the price of diesel – how much more expensive it is to transport these goods. This overtime rule will only add insult to injury and these are all costs that are going to be passed on to the consumer made up of everyday New Yorkers who are already struggling to put food on the table. 

“These farmers are still operating from the same pot of money before and after this overtime rule. That means they need to cut hours or move to less labor-intensive goods and move to those that are machine oriented. Therefore, lowering the overtime threshold will only result in reduced hours for these workers.”

Researchers from Cornell University found that one out of every 4 fruit or vegetable farms will relocate their business outside of the state, and 70% of H-2A workers said they would consider going to another state without capped hours if the state institutes a 40-hour overtime threshold.

A study from Farm Credit East, which projected labor costs for farmers, stated costs could be pushed up by 42% if the threshold is lowered, when phased-in hikes to the state minimum wage are factored in.

A report from Cornell states, “Approximately two-thirds of dairy farms interviewed indicated they would move out of milk production, direct future dairy investment to other states, invest outside of dairy or exit agriculture entirely if faced with a 40-hour overtime threshold for employees.”


About Lee Zeldin

Lee Zeldin was born and raised on Long Island. He grew up in Suffolk County and graduated from William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, where his identical twin daughters attend school today. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Albany and then his law degree from Albany Law School, becoming New York’s youngest attorney at the time at the age of 23.

Lee spent four years on Active Duty with the U.S. Army after completing ROTC and served in different capacities, including as a Military Intelligence Officer, Prosecutor, and Military Magistrate. In the summer of 2006, while assigned to the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division, Lee deployed to Iraq with an infantry battalion of fellow paratroopers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2007, Lee returned to Suffolk County with his family. It was at this time that Lee transitioned from Active Duty to the Army Reserve, where he currently serves with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

In 2008, Lee established a successful law practice in Smithtown, NY. Elected to the New York State Senate two years later, in 2010, Lee’s been working hard every day since to keep the promises he made to the hard-working families he represents.

In the State Senate, Lee:

  • Led the successful effort to repeal the MTA Payroll Tax for 80 percent of employers, a job killing tax that was hurting small businesses. 

  • Cosponsored the nation’s strongest property tax cap, which became law.

  • Reduced middle-income tax rates in New York to the lowest level in 60 years.

  • Secured the repeal of the Saltwater Fishing License Fee.

  • Created the PFC Joseph Dwyer Veteran Peer Support Program to help our returning veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). 

  • Authored the law to protect our fallen veterans and their families from protests at military burials. 

Lee was then elected to the United States Congress in 2014, representing New York’s First Congressional District, and has now won seven consecutive races since 2010 in purple NYC suburban districts, unseating two Democrat incumbents along the way. In Congress, Lee quickly became a leading voice in America on top local, domestic and foreign policy issues: 

  • Combating and defeating MS-13 on Long Island, leading the charge in New York and nationally against cashless bail, opposing all efforts to defund, dismantle or abolish police, and providing law enforcement the resources they need to fight gang violence and other crimes in our communities, including bulletproof vests.

  • Securing the repeal of many harmful, job killing regulations, with the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, and many other initiatives, to improve our business climate and grow our economy. 

  • Leading the charge to end all COVID mandates. 

  • Saving Plum Island, by securing the repeal of a 2008 federal law requiring the island to be sold off to the highest bidder. 

  • Delivering a $1.5 billion boost in border security resources, helping to choke off the flow of illegal migration across our borders. 

  • Introducing and passing into law his Adult Day Health Care legislation for disabled veterans and opening a new health care clinic for East End veterans.

  • Delivering the Electron Ion Collider “discovery machine” to Brookhaven National Lab that will enable advancements in national security, medical and cancer research, astrophysics, and more and create an extensive number of jobs. 

  • Advancing his law enforcement bill of rights, which would help ensure that our great law enforcement officers and the people they serve are protected.

  • Championing the expansion of the Dwyer Program nationally, to help all of our nation’s veterans access the resources they need. 

  • Securing much needed support of treatment, enforcement, and prevention for those affected by the heroin and opioid abuse crisis.

  • Leading the effort against the fatally flawed Iran Nuclear Deal.

  • Co-authoring a bipartisan resolution (H.Res. 246) that passed the House opposing the anti-Israel and antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

  • Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to protect our coastlines, advancing the ambitious Fire Island to Montauk Point project, in addition to several other vital projects on the north and south shores of Long Island.

  • Co-Chairing the Long Island Sound Caucus and advancing top priorities for the Long Island Sound Program, National Estuary Program and SeaGrant.

  • Co-chairing, as one of only two Jewish Republicans in Congress, the House Republican Israel Caucus, and serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Financial Services Committee, as well as four House Subcommittees.

  • Successfully resolving over 17,000 constituent cases in favor of his constituents.

Lee and his wife, Diana, reside in Shirley with their twin fifteen-year old daughters, Mikayla and Arianna.