Newsom makes an unusual deal to admit farm workers

Nabil Anas
Nabil Anas

Global Courant 2023-05-16 05:55:21

California farm workers can now more easily join a union after Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law Monday in the latest step of an unusual compromise reached last year between the Democratic leader and union lawyers.

Under intense political pressure, Newsom agreed to sign a high-profile bill last year expanding union rights for farm workers, but only on the condition that the United Farm Workers and the California Labor Federation support follow-up legislation in 2023 repealing some of its provisions. .

The rare agreement allows farm workers to unite by signing cards under a process known as “card checking” instead of voting in person at a polling station, but removed their ability to unite through mail-in ballots such as the original bill would. have allowed.

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“Card-check” essentially allows employees to organize without the employer knowing.

“It has been our California dream for decades to empower farm workers to organize without fear of harassment and deportation,” said Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation. “Nothing good comes easy, but we’re excited to finally have this tool.”

Newsom’s signature on the follow-up bill, AB 113concludes a politically challenging episode for the Democratic governor, who rose to power and has remained there with the support of the state’s most influential unions.

After vetoing similar legislation in 2021, Newsom signaled last year that he was ready to reject again the proposal that allowed “card control” elections and mail-in ballots. One month for the bill AB 2183reached his desk, a Newsom spokesperson said the governor could not support “an untested post-election process that lacks essential provisions to protect the integrity of the election.”

Unions lobbied the bill through the state legislature to his desk anyway, sparking a political confrontation with Newsom that made national headlines.

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Farm workers marched across the state last year camping in Sacramento in support of the legislation. President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) stepped up the pressure and publicly urged their fellow Democrat to sign the bill.

Rather than veto the bill and face criticism from Democrats nationally and in California a month before his reelection, Newsom struck a deal with unions. The governor agreed to sign the bill into law only if the United Farm Workers and the California Labor Federation backed and pushed this year’s follow-up language that removed the mail-in voting option, limited “card check” certification to 75 workplaces, and the ” card check” allowed. -check” option expires in 2028.

AB 113, which Newsom signed into law Monday, made those changes into the 2022 law. The governor also signed a bill to create a new $150 million program to offer interest-free loans to troubled medical centers, hoping to avoid closures in rural communities.

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Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the farm workers’ bill after he signed the legislation Monday.

Newsom makes an unusual deal to admit farm workers

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