California passes card check bill for farm workers on Chavez holiday

by Duane Campbell

Photo from Wikipedia

On March 31,2011, California and 10 other states honored  Cesar Chavez and his legacy.  Today in California the state Senate passed again SB 104 to allow card check for workers  as a route to secret ballot elections in the fields.

The bill passed on a party line vote.  All 24 Democrats voted for it, the 14 Republicans voted against it.  SB 104 will  allow workers to have a union by submitting petition cards to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board.  The ALRB was established in 1976 the first time Jerry Brown was governor after years of effort by  Cesar Chavez and the UFW. California is perhaps the only state that that has a reasonable law permitting  farm workers to organize into  a union.  Agricultural workers were excluded from the National Labor Relations Act when it was passed.  Today’s bill was sponsored by the United Farmworkers Union.  Such legislation  has long been a major goal of the UFW. The bill also includes enhanced penalties for growers who seek to block workers from unionizing.

“This is a simple, sensible, righteous piece of legislation that does not eliminate the secret ballot but gives farm workers another option to choose a collective bargaining representative,” said  Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento,  the bill’s author.

Similar legislation has passed both houses in recent years, but was vetoed each  time  by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It is not known if Governor Brown will sign this bill.

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