SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — California farmworkers and their allies ended a 24-day march to the State Capitol in support of a labor bill where they held a rally with allies shortly after Governor Gavin Newsom discussed his opposition to the proposed law.
An employer’s choice
Through a process dictated by an employer’s decision, Assembly Bill 2183 would give agricultural workers either the right to vote for or against union representation by mail or to gain representation by unions through a “card check” or similar process.
Labor Peace Election
Employers would be allowed to choose on an annual basis to enter into a “labor peace compact,” preventing them from taking certain actions commonly used to discourage employees from voting in favor of union representation.
Employers would sign the compact would agree to not speak for or against union representation, to allow labor organizations access to employees on company property, to not hold “captive audience meetings” where unions are discussed, to not disparage a union in communications to employees or the public, and to not express a preference for one union over another.
The bill states plainly that employers under a labor peace compact would still be allowed to make “truthful statements to employees regarding workplace policies or benefits” so long as unions are not referenced.
However, agreeing to the compact restricts the union representation process to a ballot procedure, which can last weeks, and eliminates an option often favored by unions.
Employees working for employers with a “labor peace compact” would be allowed to submit by mail rather than being held in person at the workplace, which supporters say can result in unfair labor practices.
“A key issue here is allowing them to vote by mail in union elections away from the intimidation and threats” Ron Estrada, CEO of Farmworker Justice said.
Non-labor peace election
Employers who do not agree to a labor peace compact, the annual deadline for which would be 30 days prior to the start of Jan. 1 of each new year, would not be held to additional restrictions but allows agricultural employees to gin representation through a “card check” or similar process.
The process would allow a union to become the exclusive bargaining representative simply by showing using a petition or signed authorization cards that a majority of employees support joining the union.
Gov. Newsom’s objections to AB 2183
The bill passed the California State Assembly in May and must be passed by the Senate before the end of the state legislative session on August 31. After that, it would go to Gov. Newsom’s desk but the governor announced Friday that while he supports the bill’s goals he has some issues with its current form.
“Governor Newsom is eager to sign legislation that expands opportunity for agricultural workers to come together and be represented, and he supports changes to state law to make it easier for these workers to organize,” Newsom’s communication director Erin Mellon said.
“Our goal is to establish a system for fair elections—requiring employers to abide by rules that guarantee union access and provide key enforceable protections to ensure a fair election. If employers fail to abide by those rules, they would be subject to organizing under a card-check process,” Mellon said.
“However, we cannot support an untested mail-in election process that lacks critical provisions to protect the integrity of the election, and is predicated on an assumption that government cannot effectively enforce laws,” Mellon continued. “We welcome an agreement with UFW on the ground-breaking legislation the administration has proposed.”