Activists gathered near State Sen. Monica Martinez’s office in Hauppauge on Sunday to ask her to support the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act. Some Long Island senators have yet to fully support or sponsor the bill [“As legislative clock ticks down,” News, June 11]. A broad network of organizations supports this bill because we see it as not only a worker rights issue, but also central to women’s rights, environmental justice, food justice and civil rights.
A farmworker who attended the vigil said he wants to be treated as any other worker. And this is the main point. Farmworkers and domestic workers were left out of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act to please Southern Democrats who did not want to give labor protections to African Americans. Today, this Jim Crow-era injustice continues. This led to wealth and income inequality for generations.
I ask our Long Island state representatives to remedy this historical injustice and bring farm work in line with other work. No industry should rely on the exploitation of its workers to survive and profit. We can find other ways to support the farming industry. It is vitally important that we pass this bill.
Editor’s note: The writer is president of the board of Rural and Migrant Ministry, an advocacy organization devoted to rural issues.
Exemptions for vaccinations
As a pediatrician, I work with parents of children who have cancer. Between chemotherapy treatments, these moms and dads often rush their children to the emergency room because even low fevers can mean serious infection. They treat their children’s discomfort and support them emotionally. They wonder about paying bills and endure a cycle of worry, fear, pain and exhaustion, typically for several years.
And yet, today they also face the concern that while fighting cancer — or even after conquering the disease — their child might succumb to measles, a disease that was considered eliminated 20 years ago, and which could be deadly for someone with weakened immunity.
With New York’s measles outbreak exceeding 900 cases, the most of any state, it is past time for Albany lawmakers to pass legislation to eliminate the state’s religious exemption for vaccinations. Only valid medical exemptions should be allowed. We must reduce the prospect of exposure for all New Yorkers.
Dr. Eve Krief,
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Legislative Advocacy Committee.
Criminal justice reform
I was deeply disappointed to learn that some Democratic state senators from Long Island are trying to roll back criminal justice reforms recently passed by the State Legislature [“Seeking bail-bill limits,” News, June 8].
This effort includes my own senator, Anna Kaplan. I volunteered to help elect her to bring progressive change to her constituents and all New Yorkers, not to slow progress by attempting to scale back new laws that will help address racial and economic disparities in our justice system.
I celebrated New York’s historic bail reform because with the elimination of cash bail for most misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, fewer people will lose jobs or housing because they couldn’t afford bail. This is a major step toward creating a more fair and equitable justice system. It should be celebrated and built on, not weakened.
Alongside some members of my community from the Reconstructionist Synagogue of North Shore, who helped elect her, I urge Kaplan and Long Island Democrats not to take a step backward that would reinforce an immoral system which imprisons people whose only crime is their poverty and lack of privilege in a system designed to protect the wealthy and powerful.
Editor’s note: The writer is a volunteer leader with Bend the Arc Jewish Action, an advocacy group seeking criminal justice reform.
Driver’s licenses for people here illegally
Why should we grant driver’s licenses, a most important privilege, to people who are in the country illegally [“LI immigrants back license bill,” News, June 8]?
Don’t think for one minute I’m against immigrants, but I am against the illegal immigration that is causing monumental problems in this country.
I am tired of listening to all the excuses for providing help to these immigrants. We need to direct our efforts to our citizens. Friends, neighbors, family and I all believe this issue is being supported because the current state Democratic establishment wants to see a path to citizenship for all of these future voters.