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May 11, 2021

AB 616 Passes Off Assembly Floor, Now Heads to CA Senate

Yesterday, the latest UFW bill that erodes employees’ free choice and threatens employers’ due process rights (AB 616), passed out of the California State Assembly. AB 616 now heads to the Senate.

AB 616 (Stone) is the latest incarnation of card check legislation, which undermines the secret ballot election process that has been at the core of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) since its inception. ALRA guarantees that employees have the opportunity to express their choice with respect to union representation through a secret ballot election held at a time and place convenient to those employees under the supervision of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).

AB 616 erodes this guarantee and raises the risk that union representation and the economic consequences for employees of being required to pay dues and obey union rules could be imposed on employees who do not wish to have union representation.

If AB 616 were to become law:

  • farm employees will be forever stripped of their right to express their choice for union representation or not by a secret ballot election supervised by the ALRB;
  • union organizers will go to great lengths to influence farm employees in order to force a card check certification and avoid secret ballot elections;
  • employers will be in perpetual legal defense mode at the ALRB, as AB 616 has harsh penalties against employers but not the unions; and
  • the bonding requirement present in the bill represents a direct threat to an employer’s due process rights.

AB 616 passed by a vote of 50-17, with 11 abstentions. Below is how each legislator voted yesterday:

  • Ayes: Aguiar-Curry, Arambula, Bauer-Kahan, Bennett, Berman, Bloom, Boerner Horvath, Burke, Calderon, Carrillo, Cervantes, Chau, Chiu, Friedman, Gabriel, Cristina Garcia, Gipson, Lorena Gonzalez, Holden, Irwin, Jones-Sawyer, Kalra, Lee, Levine, Low, Maienschein, McCarty, Medina, Mullin, Muratsuchi, Nazarian, O’Donnell, Petrie-Norris, Quirk, Quirk-Silva, Ramos, Reyes, Luz Rivas, Robert Rivas, Rodriguez, Salas, Santiago, Stone, Ting, Villapudua, Ward, Akilah Weber, Wicks, Wood, Rendon
  • Noes: Bigelow, Choi, Cunningham, Megan Dahle, Davies, Flora, Fong, Gallagher, Kiley, Lackey, Mathis, Nguyen, Seyarto, Smith, Valladares, Voepel, Waldron
  • Abstentions: Chen, Cooley, Cooper, Daly, Frazier, Eduardo Garcia, Gray, Grayson, Mayes, Patterson, Blanca Rubio

Thank you to all the Western Growers members and other industry partners who took action by reaching out to their respective legislators and voicing their opposition to the bill. Our fight now heads to the Senate.

Stay tuned to our Spotlight newsletter for additional updates about AB 616. For more information, contact Matthew Allen at (916) 446-1435.