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May 13, 2022

Legislative Update: Card Check

AB 2183 (Stone) is the latest attempt by the United Farm Workers to implement card check legislation in California. This bill was introduced early in 2022 despite the veto of the previous bill on this subject, AB 616 (Stone), by Governor Newsom last year. AB 2183 is currently in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and is likely to move to the Assembly Floor the week of May 23rd. WG has been very active in opposition to the bill. A copy of the most recent coalition opposition letter is attached as a reference. In addition, the prepared testimony to the Assembly Labor Committee by Matthew Allen, WG’s Vice President of State Government Affairs is included below.

“Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and members of the Committee.
I’m Matthew Allen with Western Growers Association. WG is strongly opposed to AB 2183. This bill is not about mail-in voting. Respectfully, it is the latest attempt to undermine the secret ballot election process as established by the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. The secret ballot serves as one of the core elements for the protection of a farmworker’s right to a free and uncoerced choice in deciding to vote either for or against union representation.  AB 2183 eliminates a farmworker’s right to a secret ballot election that is free from coercion from any party that has a financial interest in the outcome of the election. This was recognized by Governor Brown’s veto of SB 104 in 2011, Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto of SB 789 in 2009, and most recently by Governor Newsom’s veto of AB 616 just last year.

It is critical to note that when the Agricultural Labor Relations Act was created, UFW founder Cesar Chavez insisted that the Act ensure that secret ballot elections are to be the exclusive means for recognizing a union. This ensures that farmworkers may express a true preference on union representation without coercion from either their employer or from the union seeking to be their representative.

We are also opposed to the bonding requirement as outlined in the bill when appealing a monetary award order at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. AB 2183 requires that this appeals bond be filed as a condition of having the right to appeal a decision of the Board. This violates basic due process because it essentially allows the Board to determine whether or not the employer can make an appeal. The ALRB is not a neutral party in this context and has a prejudicial interest in the outcome of the appeal. This language was also found in AB 561 in 2015. That bill was vetoed by Governor Brown.

Thank you for the opportunity to testify this afternoon.”