The struggle continues for farmworkers and their allies. As marchers completed their 335-mile march in support of a California bill expanding how they can vote in their union elections, the office of Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would yet again not support the bill in its current form.
With the legislative calendar ticking down, United Farm Workers (UFW) said the Agricultural Labor Relations Voting Choice Act was changed to “reflect the model the governor laid out to show what he wants to see in the bill.” The bill was passed by the state Senate on Monday in a 26-10 vote, then headed back to the Assembly.
The question now is whether Newsom will sign it with the changes agreed to through ongoing negotiations. UFW said 24-hour vigils in four cities, including the capital, were urging the governor to do the right thing.
RELATED STORY: As farmworker marchers reach Sacramento, Newsom says he won't support proposal without changes
“The Sacramento vigil at 11th and N streets is built around an elaborate altar adorned with iconic UFW black-eagle flags and religious objects people are bringing,” UFW said Monday. “Among them are votive candles and statues of saints, including the Virgin of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico and of Latinos in the U.S. Farm workers and supporters are volunteering for shifts during daylight and nighttime hours. Also present are shoes worn out by the marchers.
“Community enthusiasm across the state built as hundreds greeted marchers along the route and joined end-of-day rallies in valley farm towns,” UFW continued. “There has been broadening public support for the UFW drive and sacrificial march, including solid backing by the California labor movement as well as union, religious, and community leaders, activists and organizations.”
Sacramento Bee reported that Assembly Member Mark Stone, the bill’s author, has negotiated with Newsom’s office, making changes that allow the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) office to handle all ballots. Newsom’s office had said that while he “supports changes to state law to make it easier for these workers to organize,” he “cannot support an untested mail-in election process that lacks critical provisions to protect the integrity of the election,” The Fresno Bee reported.
State Sen. Maria Elena Durazo told The Sacramento Bee that the changes equal nearly everything Newsom asked for. “Democratic lawmakers and Newsom remain at odds over Newsom’s request that the bill include a requirement for employers to receive an advance notice of the specific date of a union election,” the report continued. While Newsom’s office defended the request as a National Labor Relations Board standard, advocates told The Sacramento Bee that this standard just doesn’t work for farmworkers because they’ve often been intimidated during union elections.
California stands to continue being a leader in protecting communities that are falling through the cracks at the federal level. Also up for a vote in the state legislature this week is the VISION Act, which would prevent the double punishment of immigrants who’ve already served their time in state prison, and halt their unnecessary transfers to federal deportation agents.
UFW shared one tweet featuring a video of 65-year-old Asuncion, who “works both under a union contract and without. He knows the value and wants to be in the position where he and his co-workers could vote without intimidation. ‘We want @CAgovernor Newsom to sign #AB2183 now & not drag this on.’”
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