[UPDATED with Veto:] Looming Deadline For Gov. Jerry Brown in United Farm Worker's-Backed SB 104
UPDATE, JUNE 29, 2:55 P.M.: The last line in Gov. Jerry Brown's letter addressed to state senators reads: "I am returning Senate Bill 104 without my signature."
In the veto letter, Brown cites his past experience with farm labor legislation. He reminds the readers that in 1975 the nation's first agricultural labor restrictions act, or the ALRA, became law after he signed it.
Brown suggests that signing SB 104 into law yesterday would have altered "in a significant way the guiding assumptions of the ALRA," adding that he didn't think the bill's "far reaching proposals" were justified.
Brown stresses a point in the letter: this may be a veto letter, but it's not an I-don't-care-about-this-issue letter.
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"Besides being personally involved, I will direct my Labor and Agricultural Secretaries to reach out to all those who can help us achieve a fair and just result," Brown writes.
The union's president Arturo Rodriguez issued this short statement after the veto: "What never changes in politics is power. Governor Brown accepted the arguments made by the powerful agribusiness lobby and rejected the cause of powerless farm workers."
ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 27, 3:48 P.M.: Alas, he can ignore it no more.
Gov. Jerry Brown has to either sign or veto SB 104 by 11:59 p.m. tomorrow.
The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), would get rid of secret-ballot elections and implement a card-check method for farm workers deciding whether to unionize. To read the bill, click here.
A group of people organized by the United Farm Workers, the bill's chief backer, dropped by the governor's office today to drop off a petition with more than 60,000 signatures supporting the bill, says UFW spokeswoman Maria Machuca.
The bill has some big-name backers. The Latin American Herald Tribune reported yesterday that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and actor Martin Sheen marched from City Hall to the governor's office in support of the bill.
UFW President Arturo Rodriguez says the main goal of the bill is to "improve the lifestyle of the farm workers."
The LA Times opines, however, that it's the unions themselves, and not the workers, that would reap the benefits of the legislation.
Lupe Sandoval, managing director of the California Farm Labor Contractor Association, agrees.
"If you can make it really easy for them [UFW] to increase their union numbers, they're going to do it. They have astute lobbyists. They really haven't done anything for farm workers," Sandoval says.
Rodriguez rejects claims that the UFW has anything but the best interest of the farm workers in mind.
"I would say that the critics are looking to protect their own economic interests," Rodriguez says of the naysayers.
Sandoval says he thinks the bill, which would make it fair game for union reps to go to the workers' homes and ask for signatures, "takes away farm workers rights and invades their privacy."
"On election day, we don't have people coming into our house. We make up our own minds without somebody looking over our shoulder," he says.
Rodriguez says, however, that this bill would actually give farm workers "the opportunity to vote their conscience, away from the fields in front of foreman and supervisors. They can make a decision that's going to benefit them and their families."
As the bill's proponents delivered the petition to Brown today, Sandoval held out hope that the governor would veto the bill.
"We're hopeful that the guts that he showed last week in vetoing the budget proposed by the Democratic legislature, we're hoping that he shows the same kind of courage to stand up to the unions."
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