Following Gov. Gavin Newsom's signing of AB 2183 into law, Western Growers President and CEO Dave Puglia issued the following statement:
"It is shameful that Governor Newsom invoked the name of Cesar Chavez in signing AB 2183. Instead of advancing the labor icon's movement, as the Governor claimed, California has officially unraveled Chavez's legacy, striking at the heart of his greatest political objective and accomplishment: the right of farm workers to a state-supervised secret ballot election.
"Chavez fought for passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975, making California the first state in the country to give farmworkers the right to unionize. For Chavez, the key to that law – like American democracy – was the guarantee of free and fair elections shielded from intimidation and coercion by any interested party.
"Rather than seeking 'a collaborative approach among all relevant stakeholders' to address the 'various inconsistencies and procedural issues related to the collection and review of ballot cards,' as outlined in the Governor's veto message of AB 616 (the UFW's 2021 card check bill), the UFW and California Legislature pushed forward an even more flawed form of card check, which is effectively forced union submission for farmworkers disguised as mail-in voting.
"To quote language in AB 2183: 'A labor organization representative may fill out all of the information in a mail ballot.' Thus the union – with a clear financial stake in the outcome – will displace the state as supervisor of the 'election.' So-called 'clarifying language' would simply remove the mail-in voting option for farmworkers altogether rather than implement a mail-in voting process with integrity measures to ensure genuine protections for farmworkers.
"AB 2183 will unleash a relentless campaign of union pressure and harassment targeting California farmworkers, less than two percent of whom have voted in state-supervised secret ballot elections to pay the UFW three percent of their wages."