California Fresh Fruit Association calls on Newsom to veto farmworker union voting bill

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California Fresh Fruit Association calls on Newsom to veto farmworker union voting bill

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) is urging Governor Newsom to veto a bill recently passed by the state's senate that would change how farmworker union elections are carried out.

The California State Senate on Thursday voted 24-11 to pass AB 616 (Stone), commonly referred to as “card check.” AB 616 would alter the traditional petition and secret election process overseen by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) in which farmworkers can vote for a union, the CFFA said.

The California Fresh Fruit Association joined a broad coalition of agricultural organizations to oppose AB 616, which proponents have misleadingly characterized as “vote by mail” legislation, it said.

It added that unlike mail-in voting, AB 616’s process would allow for interested parties to select the timing and manner of a union election, as well as who receives a card check form, and would limit the ability of the ALRB to provide impartial supervision of an election.

CFFA President Ian LeMay said: “The California State Senate’s vote to pass AB 616 and undermine the integrity of the secret ballot in union elections is beyond disappointing. The right to an impartial, secret ballot election, free from undue pressure, is foundational to the democratic process that all of us cherish as Americans.

"AB 616 would allow for interested parties (union) to deliver a representation card to a select group of employees to sign in their presence smacks of voter coercion and intimidation – an anathema to the democratic voting process. The bill fails to even require that every employee of a company have the opportunity to vote on who or if they want to be represented.”

LeMay continued: “At the same time that our state legislators are smacking the pulpit regarding protections needed for our state and national voting processes, it is unfathomable that they would strip our farmworker community of that same basic right.

"We now call on Governor Newsom, to have the same foresight as his predecessor Governor Brown did when he vetoed the previous card check attempt. Veto AB 616 and protect California farmworker’s right to a free and fair election process.”

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