Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
In Reversal, Newsom Approves Farmworker Unionization Law
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 2 years ago on
September 29, 2022

Share

 

A broadly smiling Gov. Gavin Newsom joined about two dozen jubilant, cheering farmworkers camped outside the state Capitol Wednesday to sign one of the most contentious bills before him this year, reversing course on a measure to help farmworkers unionize after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris supported it.

The White House support pinned Newsom in a difficult political position after his office announced before Democratic lawmakers sent him the bill that he would not sign it.

But Newsom approved the bill only after he, the United Farm Workers and the California Labor Federation agreed on clarifying language to be considered during next year’s legislative session to address his concerns around implementation and voting integrity.

The new law gives California farmworkers, who harvest much of the nation’s fruit and vegetables, new ways to vote in union elections beyond physical polling places on farm property. Proponents say that would help protect workers from union busting and other intimidation, while owners say such a system lacks necessary safeguards to prevent fraud.

The agreement includes a cap on the number of unionization petitions over the next five years and will allow state regulators to better protect worker confidentiality and safety, Newsom’s office said. It would do away with an option for workers to unionize through mail-in voting that is contained in the current language, but keeps a “card check” election process.

“Sí, se puede,” the farmworkers chanted as Newsom signed the bill, echoing the UFW’s longtime slogan — roughly, “Yes, we can” in Spanish.

The union led a weekslong summer march up the state to Sacramento, where farmworkers and their supporters rallied outside the Capitol, some camping outside through September in an effort to win Newsom’s support.

“The vigil and the march were all worth it, because he came out and signed for us,” farmworker Teresa Maldonado said through a translator.

The march cost Xochilt Nunez her fruit-picking job, several toenails and left her with blistered feet. But she was on the verge of tears after Newsom signed the legislation, plus an extra copy for Nunez to keep.

“California’s farmworkers are the lifeblood of our state, and they have the fundamental right to unionize and advocate for themselves in the workplace,” Newsom said in a statement after signing the bill.

Newsom vetoed similar legislation last year, as did his two most recent predecessors. One of his stated concerns centered on security concerns about mail-in elections, an option that would be eliminated in the clean up language agreed to by the union.

The revised law would keep the card check option, which would still give farmworkers a chance to “vote from home or anywhere else they feel comfortable” and limit chances for employer intimidation, said Giev Kashkooli, legislative and political director for the United Farm Workers. Under such a system, a union is formed if more than half of workers sign the authorization card.

The California Farm Bureau said it was “deeply disappointed” in Newsom’s decision to sign the bill, though the group’s statement focused primarily on the mail-in balloting system. The union did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment about the language to remove that option.

Democratic Assemblyman Mark Stone added provisions to this year’s version that would let the law expire after five years unless it is renewed by lawmakers, and requiring the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to handle the ballots.

Newsom has been positioning himself for months as a leading national Democratic voice calling out red state governors, fueling speculation that he has presidential ambitions despite his repeated denials.

Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist in California who specializes in Latino voting trends, read Biden’s Labor Day statement strongly supporting the legislation as an effort to take Newsom down a notch.

“I think it’s impossible to avoid the reality that there’s a little bit of tension between these two politicians because of Gavin’s posture in leaning into this presidential rumor mill,” Madrid said. “It’s basically just a reminder of who the sheriff is.”

Biden has long supported the union. He keeps a bust of union co-founder Cesar Chavez in the Oval Office and Chavez’ granddaughter, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, is Biden’s director of intergovernmental affairs.

“In the state with the largest population of farmworkers, the least we owe them is an easier path to make a free and fair choice to organize a union,” Biden said in his statement.

Jack Pitney, a political science professor at Claremont McKenna College, said Biden seemed to be reflecting his longstanding support for unions, while Newsom had the more delicate task of balancing labor relations against an agricultural industry that also is struggling.

Adding to the pressure, the struggling UFW recently rejoined the umbrella California Labor Federation. The issue of farmworker unionization became more critical to labor in 2020 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that union organizers had no right to access farmers’ properties to talk to their workers.

Newsom signed a different union-backed bill on Labor Day, creating a Fast Food Council empowered to set minimum standards for wages, hours and working conditions in California. The restaurant industry moved to block it a day later.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Tent Compound Rises in Southern Gaza as Israel Prepares for Rafah Offensive

DON'T MISS

Costa Seeks Legislation to Prevent Reedley Lab Repeat

DON'T MISS

Fresno Home Care Workers Threaten Civil Disobedience Over Low Pay

DON'T MISS

Sacramento Bee Accused of Mangling the Facts About Fish Caught in Pumps

DON'T MISS

Legacy of Speed: The 1,600 Horsepower 1957 ‘Skeva’ Chevy Bel Air Built in Fresno

DON'T MISS

KMJ’s Gabriel & Musson Win Radio Honors, Fresno Council Plaudits

DON'T MISS

Tabloid Publisher Says He Pledged to Be Trump Campaign’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ During 2016 Race

DON'T MISS

General Motors Reports Strong First-Quarter Profits as Prices Help Offset Small US Sales Dip

DON'T MISS

Caitlin Clark Is Set to Sign a New Nike Deal Valued at $28 Million Over 8 Years, Reports Say

DON'T MISS

Fresno’s Baklava House Entices Foodies With Its Delicious Flavors

UP NEXT

CA Lawmakers Reject Bill Cracking Down on Utilities Spending Customers’ Money

UP NEXT

Work Starts on Bullet Train Line From Las Vegas to LA

UP NEXT

Will CA Lawmakers Crack Down on Spending by Utility Companies?

UP NEXT

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Safe After Suspect Breaks Into Official Residence, Police Say

UP NEXT

Newsom Wants to Make It Easier for Arizona Women to Get a California Abortion

UP NEXT

15 People Injured When Tram Collides With Guardrail at Universal Studios Theme Park

UP NEXT

California Leaders Take Sides in Monumental Supreme Court Case on Homelessness

UP NEXT

California Court to Decide on Transgender Ballot Measure Wording

UP NEXT

Finding an Apartment May Be Easier for California Pet Owners Under New Legislation

UP NEXT

Who Owns Businesses in California? A Lawmaker Wants the Public to Know

Sacramento Bee Accused of Mangling the Facts About Fish Caught in Pumps

16 hours ago

Legacy of Speed: The 1,600 Horsepower 1957 ‘Skeva’ Chevy Bel Air Built in Fresno

17 hours ago

KMJ’s Gabriel & Musson Win Radio Honors, Fresno Council Plaudits

17 hours ago

Tabloid Publisher Says He Pledged to Be Trump Campaign’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ During 2016 Race

18 hours ago

General Motors Reports Strong First-Quarter Profits as Prices Help Offset Small US Sales Dip

19 hours ago

Caitlin Clark Is Set to Sign a New Nike Deal Valued at $28 Million Over 8 Years, Reports Say

19 hours ago

Fresno’s Baklava House Entices Foodies With Its Delicious Flavors

20 hours ago

A Far-Right German EU Lawmaker’s Aide Is Arrested on Suspicion of Spying for China

20 hours ago

Wall Street Rallies and Adds to Its Hot Start to the Week

20 hours ago

The Icon Returns: Discover the All-New 2024 Land Cruiser

20 hours ago

Tent Compound Rises in Southern Gaza as Israel Prepares for Rafah Offensive

Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press appear to show a new compound of tents being built near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza S...

14 hours ago

14 hours ago

Tent Compound Rises in Southern Gaza as Israel Prepares for Rafah Offensive

14 hours ago

Costa Seeks Legislation to Prevent Reedley Lab Repeat

16 hours ago

Fresno Home Care Workers Threaten Civil Disobedience Over Low Pay

16 hours ago

Sacramento Bee Accused of Mangling the Facts About Fish Caught in Pumps

17 hours ago

Legacy of Speed: The 1,600 Horsepower 1957 ‘Skeva’ Chevy Bel Air Built in Fresno

17 hours ago

KMJ’s Gabriel & Musson Win Radio Honors, Fresno Council Plaudits

18 hours ago

Tabloid Publisher Says He Pledged to Be Trump Campaign’s ‘Eyes and Ears’ During 2016 Race

19 hours ago

General Motors Reports Strong First-Quarter Profits as Prices Help Offset Small US Sales Dip

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend