Gov. Jerry Brown Vetoes Farm Worker Union Bill

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LOS ANGELES -- Gov. Jerry Brown announced on Tuesday his veto of SB 104, which would have permitted California farm workers to unionize by signing a petition away from the fields.

Currently, farm workers can only decide to unionize via secret ballots cast on the worksite, a measure that was part of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Brown in 1975. The ALRA was the first law establishing collective bargaining rights for farm workers in the nation. 

Supporters of the bill argue that requiring workers to sign such a petition at their worksite could potentially make them vulnerable to intimidation by their supervisors or fellow workers.

More than 100 farm workers gathered outside of the capitol last night to await Gov. Brown’s decision. This is the fifth time the bill has been vetoed. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it four times during his years in office.

Gov. Brown has said that he wants to hear more perspectives on the issue before he makes a final decision on whether a bill like SB 104 is true to the principles of the ALRA.

Only 5 percent of California’s farm workers are currently unionized.