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September 19, 2022

Commentary: It is Irresponsible for Media to Portray AB 2183 as Simply “Vote by Mail” Reform

The United Farm Workers’ legislation to change the way workers vote in union elections is portrayed as simply a “vote by mail” or “vote from home” reform of the current process in which union elections occur at the workers’ place of employment under the watchful eyes of independent state regulators.

In fact, AB 2183 would eviscerate the secret ballot process. It is not surprising that the union wants to suppress this fact in the public debate. But it is irresponsible for journalists and media outlets to continue to help them do so.

Under the UFW’s legislation, the following scenario could occur: The union could pre-print every employee’s “ballot,” present them to employees at any place the union chooses (employees’ homes, church and school parking lots, etc.), persuade the employee to sign the card in favor of the union, and take the “ballot” from the employee with a promise to send it to the state agency that regulates union elections in agriculture. Would every ballot – even those where the employee voted “no union” under the watchful eyes of a union organizer – be faithfully forwarded by the union to the state agency? This is the opposite of a free and fair election, and all of this could occur completely out of sight of the state’s union election regulators.

It is incontrovertible that in any union election the workers are not the only party with a financial interest in the outcome. The employer obviously has a financial interest. But so does the union, which stands to collect three percent of every employee’s wages as union dues.

How can anyone say with a straight face that the union seeking to create a new inflow of monies from the workers should be entrusted with possession of union election ballots, allowed to see how each worker votes, and do all of that without any state election regulator being present? Apparently California’s news media can and will, that’s who.