In a startling and rare development, legislation sponsored by the United Farm Workers failed passage in the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee yesterday afternoon. WG and other industry groups have strongly opposed the bill. With four aye votes required for passage, the final vote on SB 25 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) was 3-2 with abstentions from Democratic Assemblymembers Luis Alejo (D-Watsonville) and Chris Holden (D-Pasadena).
SB 25 would expand the use of mandatory mediation (i.e., compulsory arbitration) under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act by, among other provisions, removing the current requirement that the employer must have committed an Unfair Labor Practice, and would further cause employers to be subject to a mediator-imposed union contract even if the certification occurred decades ago. This would even be the case in situations where contract negotiations were abandoned by the union. Stone fruit grower Dan Gerawan of Gerawan Farming Company provided compelling testimony to the committee, noting that his employees are being threatened with a mediator-imposed contract even though they have not been given the opportunity to vote on union representation. The UFW won a certification election some 20 years ago, Gerawan explained, then abandoned contract negotiations after just one meeting. Some of his employees were not even alive when the UFW abandoned contract negotiations.
The failure of SB 25 was remarkable; the Legislature’s two Labor Committees routinely approve union-sponsored legislation. However, the Assembly Labor Committee yesterday granted Sen. Steinberg “reconsideration,” meaning he can seek a re-vote on the bill at a future hearing.
Please contact WGA’s Matthew Allen (email@example.com) at 916-446-1435 for more information.
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