Photo: California bill could make for easier unionization for farm workers
In direct opposition of Republicans and the business community, California lawmakers are on their way to passing a bill that would make it easier for farmworkers to unionize.
The bill passed in the Senate Thursday with a vote of 24-14, with Republicans and Democrats voting with their parties. Similar bills were vetoed by former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenagger four times.
If passed, the new law would let field workers organize by submitting a petition to the state Agricultural Labor Relations board. Voting cards would to need to be signed and submitted by the majority of the farmworkers, and once the cards were legitimized, the board would certify the union.
Republican lawmakers say the bill could cause union organizers to pressure farmworkers into signing the voting cards claiming they want union representation. However, Senate Democrats say that the current method of holding a unionization election gives employers the opportunity to intimidate farmworkers before voting.
The pending bill is opposed by the California Chamber of Commerce, California Farm Bureau Federation, and organizations representing manufacturers, retailers, and restaurant owners.
The United Farm Workers was founded by Cesar Chavez, and its current President Arturo Rodriguez says that under California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, the farmworkers’ union bill has a better chance of passing this time around.
Annually, about 400,000 farmworkers are in California’s orchards and fields, and about 27,000 work at least one day under United Farm Worker contracts.