California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) has expressed support for the secret ballot process in union representation voting in its opposition to Assembly Bill 616 (AB 616). The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ARLB) has traditionally overseen polling place elections for union representation voting. CFBF Director of Employment Policy, Bryan Little said AB 616 would supplant the practice for a blank ballot approach.
“What AB 616 does is to take away an agricultural employee’s right to have a supervised, secret ballot election to decide whether or not they want to be represented by a union. We think that’s very problematic,” Little noted. “There are a lot of problems with this and a lot of coercion. What’s really interesting about it I think, is that the way this is going to work is that you can bet that the union is never going to give a ballot card to someone who they think doesn’t support unionization.”
Under AB 616, union organizers would be allowed to collect ballot cards as much as 11 months in advance before they are used. An employee may sign a ballot card given to them by a union organizer before he or she is even aware of what the union’s employer target may be. “The only thing that the employee has to provide on that card is the signature. The labor union organizers can furnish everything else, take that card, and turn it into the Ag Labor Relations Board,” Little explained.
CFBF is encouraging industry members to be aware of the potential ramifications of AB 616. As the bill moves through the legislative process, farmers and ranchers are urged to voice their opinions to lawmakers. “If you’re not a member of the Farm Team, join the Farm Team today. If you are a member, be sure you respond to our Farm Team Alert on AB 616,” said Little. “I think it’s going to be on the Senate floor pretty soon.”