A rally organized by the California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) sought to encourage Governor Gavin Newsom to veto AB 616. Agricultural industry members gathered at the south steps of the California state Capitol to voice opposition to the card check legislation. Farm employees held signs that said things like ‘save my secret ballot, veto AB 616’ and ‘don’t force me to be in a union.’ CFBF President Jamie Johansson said the rally was a way to ensure that the agricultural industry had a chance to be heard.
“AB 616 is a bill that fundamentally changes how union elections would go. In fact, ultimately, it would deny up to 49 percent of employees the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted to be unionized,” said Johansson. “Playing politics and doing a union check-off wish list at the end of the session instead of dealing with real issues is unacceptable. That’s what AB 616 is, it’s a wish list item that needs to be vetoed by Governor Newsom.”
Previous attempts to implement a card check system similar to what AB 616 will establish have been defeated in the past. Johansson echoed the frustration regarding what lawmakers have been focusing on this legislative session, which has been expressed by many farmers and ranchers. “For them to bring this issue up at a time when our greatest priority right now is just to keep our farms and ranches operating and our employees working really just speaks volumes to where the priorities of this Legislature are and they’re out of whack,” Johansson noted.
Patricia Lopez from Duarte Nursery also delivered an impassioned speech about the priorities of ag employees. Lopez was accompanied on the steps by more than a dozen other workers to voice their opposition to AB 616. She further emphasized the message that Johansson presented: that water is the more pressing concern for farm employees.
“We don’t need AB 616. What we need is water for agriculture. Because if we don’t have water, we don’t have food, we don’t have jobs,” Lopez told AgNet West. “[Governor Newsom} doesn’t need to be focused on AB 616. That is not going to help, instead, it’s going to hurt us. This is why we are here.”