Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia appeared on Spectrum News 1’s Inside the Issues with Alex Cohen on Oct. 3, addressing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of AB 2183 and the ramifications that ending the secret ballot process will have on farmworkers in California.
“It’s not really about mail-in voting – if it were, the [UFW] would not have agreed to strip that out of the bill next year and go straight to a card check process,” Puglia said, refuting a commonly-held misbelief about the legislation. “The loss of a secret ballot election is really critical…that, to us, is the fundamental loss of a right that many of us feel is sacrosanct, and that is the right to cast my vote without any financially interested party knowing how I voted.”
Puglia noted that there are three parties that had a financial interest in the outcome of AB 2183: farmworkers and farmers, of course, but also the UFW.
“California’s farmers have common cause with their workers,” he said. “We don’t have enough workers to begin with. We’re paying historically high wages…in the last, roughly, decade, wages on California farms have gone up 67 percent while net profits on farms have gone down 24 percent in that same period of time. If we’re making less money as farmers but paying far more in wages, that doesn’t tell me there is a disconnect between the interest of the workers and the farmers.
“It tells me there is a union that wants to create a new revenue stream by doing away with the secret ballot election process and simply short-changing it by a card check process.”