(KTXL) — A bill to significantly change a new agricultural labor law that just came into effect this year has made its way to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk.
Assembly Bill 113 would eliminate the option for agricultural workers to unionize via a mail-in ballot, a process that was legalized at the start of the year.
•Video Above: Newsom signs bill that facilitates farmworker unionization (from August 2022)
Last year, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2183 into law, allowing agricultural workers to vote to unionize using mail-in ballots or through a process known as a “card check.”
Newsom had publicly spoken against the bill but agreed to sign it in the fall of 2022 after coming to an agreement with unions and the legislature that a new law would be passed this year amending the first one.
“(W)e cannot support an untested mail-in election process that lacks critical provisions to protect the integrity of the election, and is predicated on an assumption that government cannot effectively enforce laws,” Newsom’s communication director Erin Mellon said prior to the agreement.
Agricultural workers will still have the option to join a union via card check, a process most American workers can no longer participate in, or through the standard secret ballot process.
The new bill would also limit the total number of union certifications that can be granted via card check, which the bill refers to as a “Majority Support Petition” process, to 75 total until 2028 when the law essentially repeals itself.
In a Majority Support Petition, a union would be certified to represent workers after it submits proof that it has the support, typically in the form of collected signatures, of a majority of workers within a workplace to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.
Unions prefer the majority support process because the formal election process can be a drawn-out process that gives employers time to discourage unionization, sometimes through illegal means, such as threats.