California Grape & Tree Fruit League Applauds Veto of Senate Bill 104 that Sought to Ban Secret Ballot Union Votes

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Decision Hailed for Protecting Workers Against Intimidation & Preserving Basic Democratic Rights Cesar Chavez Himself Valued in the Workplace

The California Grape & Tree Fruit League (CGTFL) today praised Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to veto a measure that would have stripped state farm workers of the right to cast their union votes in private and free of coercion.

Senate Bill 104 (Steinberg) sought to eliminate the basic right to privacy for farm workers when they vote on whether or not to unionize their workplace – a right even United Farm Workers (UFW) founder Cesar Chavez passionately defended. The proposal would have opened the door for union members to go into the homes of workers and even mark their ballots for them, according to a CGTFL spokesman.

“Clearly the Governor recognized the enormous ramifications of this bill and the fact that California agriculture has made huge strides in labor relations since he instituted reforms four decades ago,” said Barry Bedwell, president CGTFL. “He has remained true to his legacy and commitment to defend one of our society’s most fundamental rights.”

SB 104 marked the fifth failed attempt by the UFW to jettison these cherished values in order to boost union membership by creating a process that would allow bullying and intimidation of workers. Previous measures were also vetoed.

“In the end, Governor Brown honored the integrity of a state-supervised election process he was instrumental in reforming,” said Steve Hash, the CGTFL chairman. “His veto is in keeping with his position that a secret ballot is sacrosanct.”

California farmers are among the most progressive in the world, he said.

“We respect our land, our employees and our laws, the latter of which already protect the rights of workers to unionize,” said Hash. “That said, California agriculture is committed to working with the Governor in the process he outlined in his veto message to address any legitimate areas of concern involving labor relations.”

In addition to its undemocratic nature, the proposal would have been harmful to the state’s struggling economy. SB 104 was listed on the California Chamber of Commerce’s 2011 Job Killers list because it will hurt California’s businesses by driving up costs, making employers less competitive in a global market.

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Stevan Allen

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