Gains and setbacks for California farm labor laws

September 29 , 2014

Irvine-based produce industry association Western Growers has applauded California Governor Jerry Brown for his veto of a bill that would have given the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) the right to enforce farm contracts before administrative orders came under review. shutterstock_108772487 lettuce panorama

In a release, Western Growers CEO Tom Nassif described Brown’s decision yesterday to block SB 25 as “sound”.

“When a state mediator imposes a union contract on an employer, as the Agricultural Labor Relations Act provides, the employer has very limited opportunity to obtain a stay of its provisions from the court pending an appeal,” Nassif said.

“This legislation would have raised the barrier so high that it would be practically impossible for any employer to ever obtain a stay.

“By further removing the courts from the process, SB 25 sought to diminish the already limited accountability of the state mediator and the ALRB, and in so doing would have provided even more motivation to the union to run out the clock in good faith bargaining in order to get to Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC), more properly known as mandatory mediation and binding arbitration.”

Nassif thanked Brown for making “another difficult, but wise decision” in the area of labor relations.

“We are grateful that he saw the fundamental unfairness of this proposal,” he said.

But Brown’s signing of another labor-related bill, AB 1897, has not received the same positive response.

“This labor union-sponsored bill will unfairly impose significant liability onto an innocent third-party employer for violations of wage and other obligations of a labor contractor even though the third-party employer does not control the contractor,” Nassif said.

“All employers should be ensuring a safe work environment, the payment of wages, and workers’ compensation for their employees, and California has in recent years strengthened these laws and increased enforcement to focus on bad actors.

“Creating liability for innocent third-party employers is unnecessary and harmful to our state’s job climate.”


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