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At the end of June, California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, which would have made it easier for farm workers to join unions without employer interference. The United Farm Workers did not give up, launching a 200-mile march to the State Capitol urging Brown to sign that bill and another on entitling farm workers to overtime pay after they've worked 40 hours in a week.
And although Jerry Brown is still not signing the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, he did agree to a compromise measure, "negotiated by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and written into a bill by legislative Democrats [...]" The compromise includes:
- Immediate certification of a union if employer election violations could have affected a unionization vote.
- An expedited process for the [Agricultural Labor Relations Board] to certify elections. Farm workers now must wait up to two years or more after voting before they can begin negotiating a union contract with growers.
- Authority for the ALRB general counsel to go to court to reinstate farm workers who are illegally fired by employers during union election drives.
- Accelerating the process under the state’s 2002 binding mediation law, allowing mediation to produce a union contract to commence after 90 days instead of 180 days of normal bargaining.
Delay is one of the greatest weapons of anti-union bosses. Delay enables them to intimidate workers, fire the strongest union supporters, and generally kill momentum, making organization feel futile because nothing ever happens. That's why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is so freaked out by a National Labor Relations Board proposal to streamline union representation elections slightly. So, while Jerry Brown damn well should have signed the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act, these measures to speed up the process and curb some of the worst violations represent a meaningful step forward for farm workers.