California Gov Okays Farm Workers Unionization Law
California 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, Don Thompson and Kathleen Ronayne reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: "They deserve the fundamental right to advocate for themselves in the workplace," wrote California's Governor on Twitter.
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.