The California Farm Bureau will host an 11 a.m. rally outside the state Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday to express serious concerns over legislation that would replace secret-ballot elections for union organizing with a system known as “card check.”
Farm Bureau is opposing Assembly Bill 616, which recently passed the California Senate and is awaiting action by Gov. Gavin Newsom. It argues that secret-ballot elections, conducted under the supervisions of the Agriculture Labor Relations Board, better protect employees from intimidation or coercion.
President Jamie Johansson, who will speak at the rally, has expressed extreme disappointment over the Senate vote and its potential implications.
“The Senate eliminated the farm employees’ right to choose, for themselves, whether they want to have a portion of their paycheck deducted and sent to a union,” Johansson said after the Senate vote. “AB 616, by the Agriculture Labor Relations Board’s own analysis, will result in fewer elections because AB 616 does not require them to occur.”
“The fact is that there will be farm employees who show up to work one day, only to find that they are part of a union, without ever having an opportunity to voice their own desire,” Johansson added. “They are already suffering from lost jobs due to drought, reduced paychecks due to the overtime law and now the Senate takes their right to vote away. However, we sincerely hope the governor values the dignity of farm employees enough to protect them from intimidation, preserve their right to vote and protect the sanctity of the secret ballot by vetoing this bad bill.”
Participants in the rally will also call on Gov. Newsom and the Legislature to act instead on critical water storage and conveyance projects urgently needed by Californians. Voters in 2014 overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1 to fund water projects benefitting the environment, agriculture and California communities. Yet construction has not begun.