Governor’s Veto of AB 616 ‘Protects the Sanctity of the Secret Ballot’

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Legislative

Several agricultural organizations have expressed support for Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of AB 616. The bill would have eliminated the secret ballot process for voting on issues of union representation. “This bill contains various inconsistencies and procedural issues related to the collection and review of ballot cards,” Newsom stated in his veto message.

AB 616

California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) had worked to organize the farming community in opposition to the bill. A rally was recently held on the steps of the Capitol to encourage the Governor to veto the bill. CFBF praised Newsom for hearing the concerns of the industry in vetoing the bill. “The firm action taken today by Governor Newsom in vetoing 616 protects the sanctity of the secret ballot election. It means that strong-arm organizing tactics and coercion have no place in California agriculture,” said CFBF President Jamie Johansson.

Several concerns had been raised as AB 616 was making its way through the legislative process. A yearlong mail-in card-check system would have created the potential for coercion and intimidation during the voting process. “Today’s veto of AB 616 preserves the right to a free and fair election process for all California farmworkers from those who sought to take that right away from them,” said Ian LeMay, President of the California Fresh Fruit Association.

The United Farm Workers (UFW) expressed disappointment in Governor Newsom’s decision. UFW had been organizing a 260-mile March to the Capitol in support of AB 616. UFW has indicated its intention to now direct the march towards the French Laundry restaurant in an attempt to meet with the governor.

Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia commended Governor Newsom for “rejecting the most recent UFW-backed attempt to dismantle the secret ballot election for farmworkers.” In vetoing AB 616, Puglia explained that the governor has helped to protect farmworkers’ rights and uphold the Agricultural Labor Relations Act. “Governor Newson has sent to Sacramento lawmakers the clear message that card check has no place in California,” said Puglia.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West