It’s not card-check, but a new law signed last week by California Gov. Jerry Brown could make union certification in California easier.
Bill SB126 will have an impact on all agriculture employers, including the dairy industry. SB126 focuses on how union elections are conducted. SB126 lets California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Board certify a union if it finds there has been misconduct during a union election by the employer even if the union was not voted in. Essentially, the penalty if an agriculture employer is found to have violated union election rules is to automatically certify the union no matter the vote.
The dairy industry was heavily opposed to the original card-check legislation because it eliminated secret-ballot elections and would have given a green light to worker intimidation, coercion and bullying from union leaders. Some believed that eliminating secret-ballot elections would go against the essence of democracy.
Some in agriculture feel the new bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed is reasonable. “It’s not working against our freedom to choose whether we want to be in a union or not,” Don Davis, Kern County Farm Bureau president told the Bakersfield Californian. It remains to be seen how the labor board will interpret what constitutes an employer behaving badly.
The new bill does raise the stakes for employers facing union organizing campaigns, Anthony Raimondo, an agriculture labor law attorney with McCormick Barstow in Fresno, Calif. “If you say or do the wrong thing, you could end up unionized even if you win the election. It will be critical to run aggressive, but clean, counter-organizing campaigns.”