Spin Cycle

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Kerry Kennedy lends hand to farmworkers' rights bill

Kerry Kennedy talks about her childhood and her

Kerry Kennedy talks about her childhood and her efforts in fighting social justice as the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights at her office in Manhattan. (Sept. 13, 2012) (Credit: Rory Glaeseman)

Kerry Kennedy lent her support Thursday to a new educational initiative that aims to engage students and parents in a push to give New York’s farm workers the same protections, from overtime pay to collective bargaining rights, long-enjoyed by other workers.

Teachers around the state and nation will be able to use a new lesson plan on the issue that can be downloaded from a website, sharemylesson.com, created by the American Federation of Teachers.

Kennedy, the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights, said at a State Capitol news conference it was time to “get rid of the last Jim Crow laws in this state.”

Some advocates, including Kennedy, fasted for 48 hours to show their support. Kennedy is the former wife of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Though the Democrat-led Assembly for years has supported a “Farmworkers’ Bill of Rights,” the politically divided state Senate has not.

If enacted, the bill would require farms to give their workers one day off a week and pay overtime after they worked eight hours a day. Farm workers also would be eligible for unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.

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