Senate Bill 25 went before the California Assembly Labor and Employment Committee on Wednesday. This bill would close legal loopholes and stop cynical games growers play to deny their farm workers the life-changing protections of union contract.It is critical that this United Farm Workers-sponsored reform now passes the labor committee. Democratic members of that committee—Assemblymembers Chris Holden and Luis Alejo—chose not to vote for SB 25! Assemblymember Holden has said he will vote for it next week when the bill will be heard again on June 26, but Assemblymember Alejo still has not responded.
Tell him why SB 25 is crucial to ensure agricultural workers' votes are respected and to vote YES in the Assembly Labor Committee. Can you send him your message today and tell him why his inaction is unacceptable?
Here's why SB 25 is so urgently needed by farm workers:
• One of California's biggest vegetable growers refused to agree to a UFW contract for 32 years after workers voted for the union. They finally won their agreement only after a UFW-sponsored law passed in 2002, letting farm workers bring in neutral mediators to hammer out union contracts when growers refuse to negotiate. Since that first union contract expired in 2010, the grower delayed renegotiating the contract for more than two years.
• During the 1980s, it’s been reported 54 growers employing about 10,000 union members protected by UFW contracts allegedly went out of business and then adopted new corporate identities to deny farm workers representation by the UFW. This corporate structuring practice continues today.
• In March 2012, the UFW asked the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board to order a large tomato grower into binding mediation under the 2002 law. The tomato grower refused to implement the decisions of the neutral mediator and the ALRB so the workers could have a UFW contract. Now the ALRB says it lacks legal authority to go to court to make the company honor the law.
UFW-sponsored SB 25, by state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would also provide for binding mediation when growers refuse to renegotiate existing union contracts. It would stop companies from using corporate restructuring to deny farm workers the union representation for which they voted. And it would close a loophole in the 2002 binding mediation law that leaves the farm labor board powerless when growers ignore state orders to implement union contracts.
Tell this Democratic member of the Assembly Labor Committee it is totally unacceptable for him not to vote for a critical bill that guarantees the farm workers' right to organize.