Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom photo by Wikipedia user Mike D.

published on September 23, 2021 - 1:01 PM
Written by The Business Journal Staff

Gov. Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have streamlined the process for farm employees to elect labor representation.

Opponents say the bill would essentially eliminate a secret, on-site ballot for employees to select union representation in favor of ballots that could be handed in or mailed over the course of a year or more.

The veto was met with praise by the farm community.

“The California Farm Bureau is proud of our farmers, ranchers and farm workers who stood up and spoke out against AB 616 and the threat it represented for the rights of agricultural employees to be free of undue fear and intimidation,” stated California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson . “The firm action taken today by Governor Newsom in vetoing 616 protects the sanctity of the secret ballot election. It means that strong-arm organizing tactics and coercion have no place in California agriculture.”

In his veto message, Newsom said the bill contains “various inconsistencies and procedural issues related to the collection and review of ballot cards.”

“Significant changes to California’s well-defined agricultural labor laws must be carefully crafted to ensure that both agricultural workers’ intent to be represented and the right to collectively bargain is protected, and the state can faithfully enforce those fundamental rights,” Newsom wrote in his veto message.

The veto came one day into a march by the United Farm Workers union from Tulare County to the state Capitol to convince Newsom to sign AB 616. On Saturday, marchers also plan to walk from the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville to Newsom’s Plumpjack Winery in Napa — they say in an effort to seek a meeting with the governor they were denied in June.

“Governor Newsom just benefited from state laws making it easier for Californias to vote. But he doesn’t want farm workers to have the same benefits, according to a statement from the UFW.


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