Friday, September 30, 2022

Ag Industry Legislation

Ag Industry Disappointed by Newsom’s Signing of Card Check Legislation

Despite opposition from agriculture and business groups, Governor Gavin Newsom has signed the card check legislation AB 2183. Proponents of the bill such as the United Farm Workers (UFW) have characterized it as a reform to allow mail-in ballots for Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) elections. Groups that spoke out against the bill raised concern about intimidation from union organizers.

“AB 2183 will not only eviscerate an employee’s previously sacred right to a secret ballot in a unionization election. It will also erode the property ownership and First Amendment rights of agricultural businesses across California,” said California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) President Ian LeMay. “CFFA is also concerned with the idea of a legislative ‘fix’ to the issues in AB 2183 being drafted behind closed doors with no opportunity for input by all stakeholders. If this is any example of how this bill will be implemented, agricultural employees throughout California will have no say in their future. Today is a sad day for California agriculture and California farmworkers.”

According to a news release from the Governor’s Office, the legislation “creates new ways for farmworkers to vote in a union election.” Newsom previously vetoed similar card check legislation, AB 616, last year. Newsom also indicated he was likely to do the same to AB 2183. However, after negotiating with the UFW and the California Labor Federation, the legislation was signed. The announcement was met with significant dismay from agricultural organizations.

“This goes well beyond the intent of mail-in balloting and infringes on the rights of farm employers to discuss the changes that unionization makes to their employment and paychecks,” said Norm Groot, Executive Director of Monterey County Farm Bureau. “Muzzling employers from free speech related to the relationship they have with their employees changes the character of agricultural employment in California and takes away the rights of farm employers to counter any misrepresentations made by union organizers.”

A few weeks ago, President Joe Biden had also weighed in on the issue, issuing his support for the card check legislation. Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also made their support for the legislation known. In a statement, Governor Newsom noted California’s history of farmworker activism and the need to carry that forward, highlighting the work of Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong,

“It is shameful that Governor Newsom invoked the name of Cesar Chavez in signing AB 2183. Instead of advancing the labor icon’s movement, as the Governor claimed, California has officially unraveled Chavez’s legacy, striking at the heart of his greatest political objective and accomplishment: the right of farmworkers to a state-supervised secret ballot election,” said Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia. “Chavez fought for passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, making California the first state in the country to give farmworkers the right to unionize. For Chavez, the key to that law – like American democracy – was the guarantee of free and fair elections shielded from intimidation and coercion by any interested party.”

Source: AgNet West