Anthony Raimondo, an agricultural labor law attorney with McCormick Barstow in Fresno, Calif., offers the following comments on the ‘card check’ bill.

Governor Schwarzenegger has vetoed SB789, which would have eliminated secret ballot elections for agricultural workers to decide whether to unionize. The bill would have replaced elections with a “card check” procedure, where a union could establish itself as the workers’ collective bargaining representative by simply presenting authorization cards signed by a majority of the employees.

“The United Farm Workers (UFW) union had pushed hard for passage of SB789, attempting to use heat stress deaths as justification for the elimination of secret ballot elections. According to the union, the only way to stop heat illness is to make it easier for the union to gain the right to represent the workers. In an odd twist, Cesar Chavez was a strong supporter of secret ballot elections, and was one of the key supporters of a provision in the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) that prohibits voluntary recognition, which occurs when an employer recognizes a union as its employees’ representative based upon evidence that a majority of workers support the union. Voluntary recognition is allowed under federal labor laws, but not California’s ALRA.

“The veto came one day after the UFW gave $1 million to a coalition that is opposing the governor’s plan to seek voter approval for water bonds to help relieve California’s water crisis. Putting a water bond before voters is one of the governor’s top priorities and his political adviser, Adam Mendelsohn, speculated in an interview that the donation was an “intimidation tactic” meant to get the governor to sign SB789.

“The governor vetoed similar bills in 2007 and 2008. Despite the good news, agricultural employers should expect the union to continue to press for a card check process, and to throw its considerable political weight behind Democratic gubernatorial candidates who endorse the elimination of secret ballot elections.”

The goal of this article is to provide employers with current labor and employment law information. The contents should not be interpreted or construed as legal advice or opinion. For individual responses to questions or concerns regarding any given situation, the reader should consult with Anthony Raimondo at McCormick Barstow LLP in Fresno, at (559)433-1300.

Source: Source: Anthony Raimondo, McCormick Barstow