A controversial bill to expand farm worker rights has been resurrected from the dead, irritating state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine.
Mr. Aubertine, D-Cape Vincent, and the Agriculture Committee he chairs voted April 20 against the bill, which aims to provide overtime pay, rest days, collective bargaining and unemployment benefits to farm laborers.
The bill resurfaced Tuesday with only minor cosmetic changes, with 21 co-sponsors from the chamber's 62 members. It was immediately routed to the Labor Committee, where it passed in January.
"It's disheartening that advocates for this legislation — after suffering a defeat — refuse to accept the fact that this bill went through an open process, was considered and defeated by a majority of senators," the senator said in a statement. "If you read the bill, it's clear that there have been zero attempts at compromise here. They introduced the same bill all over again."
The bill is identical to the version that was defeated, with a few very minor changes. It changes "farm workers" to "farmworkers," turns all "he" or "his" references into the gender neutral "he or she" and "his or her," and changes references to "paragraph" into "subdivision." It also changed the effective date from last April 1 to the next April 1.
Mr. Aubertine and other opponents, including the New York Farm Bureau, have argued that the bill would add onerous regulations that would force farmers to cut jobs, limit employees' hours or close their farms.
At least one senator — Craig M. Johnson, a Nassau Democrat — has been swayed by the appeal.
"Darrel talked to him and educated him on some of the potential pitfalls that the bill, as written, would have on the farming industry in New York," said Richard A. Azzopardi, Mr. Johnson's spokesman. "Craig took those to heart. And that's why when the opportunity came to take his name off the bill, he decided he was more comfortable with his name off of it."
There were seven other senators who sponsored the previous version the bill who are not co-sponsors of the new version.
Former Sen. Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens, was expelled from the Senate in February due to a misdemeanor assault conviction. His replacement, Sen. Jose R. Peralta, is the bill's only new co-sponsor.
Sen. Pedro Espada, a vocal proponent of the bill, is expected to sign on. Ana Tinsly, a spokeswoman for Sen. Diane Savino, D-Staten Island, said her boss has not changed her position and would soon again be a co-sponsor of the bill.
The others are: Sens. Jeffrey D. Klein, D-Bronx; Velmanette Montgomery, D-Brooklyn; Joseph E. Robach, R-Rochester, and Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson, D-Brooklyn.
Mr. Azzopardi said a new start was warranted.
"Farmers and labor and immigrant advocates should get together and see if there's a way to tackle this," he said.
Mr. Aubertine said the Senate Agriculture Committee and Farm Bureau "have clearly and publicly stated our willingness to address any real and substantive issues regarding the rights of farm workers."
Andrew G. Mangione, the senator's spokesman, said the senator will appeal, as he did last time, to Senate leadership to have the bill detour to the Agriculture Committee if it again passes the Labor Committee. The Labor Committee declined to send the bill to Mr. Aubertine's group, saying they lacked jurisdiction because the bill did not change state Agriculture and Markets law.