Home>Articles>Gov. Newsom Signs Bill to Eliminate Vote-by-Mail Elections and Secret Ballots for Farm Workers

Sweet potato farm. (Photo: Katy Grimes for California Globe)

Gov. Newsom Signs Bill to Eliminate Vote-by-Mail Elections and Secret Ballots for Farm Workers

Violates farm workers’ right to a secret vote and opens the door for union leaders to intimidate them during union elections

By Katy Grimes, May 16, 2023 7:26 am

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed AB 113 authored by the Committee on Budget, into law Monday to eliminate vote-by-mail in elections by farm workers for union certification. This will usher in a “card check” system in which United Farm Workers labor union organizers can intimidate, coerce and threaten retaliation farm workers for their vote.

There are more than 80,000 farms in California, and the UFW labor union has less than 30 of those under a collective bargaining agreement contract.

Founded by activist Cesar Chavez in 1962, the UFW was meant to serve as a voice and advocate for farmworkers. However, the union has been exposed numerous times conducting some troubling anti-worker actions, as the Globe reported.

Last August 2022, Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2183 by Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and sponsored by the United Farm Workers to allow farmworkers to vote by mail in union elections, as well as the card check vote. Bill analysis claimed, “AB 2183 would modernize the ALRA to allow farm workers to choose if they want to vote at a physical location, or vote by mailing or dropping off a representation ballot card to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) office.”

This measure was bad enough because it violated a right to vote in secret, a fundamental principle of democracy. Under a “card check” process, union organizers can approach farmworkers in person and ask them to sign a card representing their vote for the union. Because these union organizers will know how the farm workers voted, the workers are more susceptible to intimidation, coercion, and threats of retaliation.

Breitbart explains the dirty deal behind AB 113:

Newsom, who owns a winery himself, signed the law, AB 113, under a deal he struck with unions last year under pressure from labor organizers and Democratic leaders, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

Farmworkers led a series of protests in response, including a march to the infamous French Laundry restaurant in Napa, where Newsom dined maskless with lobbyists right after issuing pandemic guidelines telling other Californians not to to to restaurants. Newsom relented and signed a bill allowing vote-by-mail and other provisions, under the understanding that the vote-by-mail provision would be repealed the following year.

This is deja-vu all over again because a very large group of farmworkers spent many years fighting unionization by the United Farm Workers labor union, and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

I explained in 2018 the plight of the Central Valley Gerawan Farming employees, which I covered in-depth since 2012:

The serious wrangling with the United Farm Workers Labor Union and ALRB began again in October of 2012, when the union insisted that a multi-decades old collective bargaining agreement covering Gerawan workers be reactivated, and tried to invoke a 2002 law that empowers the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board to impose a union contract on the company’s farm workers, and to deduct three percent of the 5,000 Gerawan employees’ pay—without their consent.

The Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation law allows state mediators to force union contracts on workers through binding mediation — in essence, it shoves a contract down the throats of workers, without their consent. In a 48-page decision, the California Supreme Court Justices said, “We conclude that the MMC statute neither violates equal protection nor unconstitutionally delegates legislative power.” That was predictable.

“California Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democrat-supermajority State Legislature hold the state Supreme Court’s purse strings. Evidence of this can be found in the Monday California Supreme Court 7-0 decision in the Gerawan Farming case,” I wrote at the time of the decision.

“Today’s decision imposes the United Farm Workers on our employees, whether they want the UFW or not,” Gerawan Farming said in a statement. “In this case, since UFW had disappeared for almost two decades, 99% of the Gerawan employees never voted for UFW representation.” The California Supreme Court justices also notably did not place any value on Gerawan’s argument that the UFW labor union’s 22-year absence meant it forfeited its status as an employee representative.”

This new law comes at a time when California farmer’s unions are dwindling. According to former ALRB chairman William Gould, who resigned from the board in 2017, he saw just one case of farmworkers who wanted to join a union in his entire three-year tenure – only one.

Many want to know why the ALRB is going to bat for a union fading into irrelevancy, instead of fighting on behalf of all California farmworkers. Notably, farm workers told me many times unions should start focusing on helping workers, rather than controlling them.

As far back as August 2013, California Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Y. Hamilton, Jr., took one of the ALRB attorneys to task for working overtime to stop farm workers from voting on whether to decertify the UFW as their collective bargaining representative. Hamilton accused the ALRB lawyer of “overreach” in his legal authority in trying to stop the vote. “So the court is very suspect of the ALRB’s position here,” Hamilton said. “It almost seems like it’s in cahoots” with the UFW.

It is obvious Democrats don’t really care about the farm workers.
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8 thoughts on “Gov. Newsom Signs Bill to Eliminate Vote-by-Mail Elections and Secret Ballots for Farm Workers

  1. You don’t even need to know what the bills are anymore in California. If Newsom is signing it it’s bad! It’s going to be about power, money and corruption.

  2. Hmm. The incoming state chancellor of the California Community College system – Sonya Christian – hails from Bakersfield College and the Kern Community College District. She counts Dolores Huerta and her various organizations as “valued partners”. These organizations include the UFW, the Dolores Huerta Foundation, and the Farmworker Institute for Education and Leadership (aka FIELD). Click on the “Community Support” section here: https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/community-collaboratives/kern-hrc?fbclid=IwAR1lt6eWBXRxusb2Ax_Qb3vM-NKagOecHKW-KxWkCaHFU79Jkzdq0u9r5F8
    The close association between Christian and Huerta hit the Bakersfield news when a Bakersfield College history professor gained approval of a non-credit certificate titled the César E. Chávez Leadership Certificate of Completion.”

  3. Leave it to Gov Gruesome to sign a bill that eliminates vote-by-mail in this case where it’s NEEDED in order to prevent a union that farm workers do not want from being forced on them. He’s nothing if not consistent! Consistently devious and manipulative, that is. Meanwhile, no elimination by Gavin of beyond sketchy and ripe-for-the-cheat vote-by-mail for rank-and-file California voters in California elections where transparency and proof of a clean-enough process is desperately needed, allowing voters and candidates to have SOME confidence in its legitimacy. And yes, it IS blatantly obvious from this coverage that Democrats don’t give a bleep about farm workers in spite of decades of tsk-tsk’ing at the opposing party to the contrary.

    1. right. vote by mail for union elections is bad, but is the California gold standard for political office.

  4. I’m losing all hope that the jabs and boosters are going to fix our Governor Gruesome problem before his term is up. My luck of late would be that he finishes his full second term and then dies within a week of leaving office. Before his second term ends I might want top develop a new drug and/or alcohol addiction. Anybody know what substances our tyrant leader prefers, I would like to avoid that personality crisis.

    1. I do know the addiction they have is Adrenochrome.
      Definitely avoid that one because it comes with demonic ties.
      There is one thing I know of that you can become addicted to that is actually very good for your body.
      It is fresh berries. The more you eat them the more you crave them. They are to be freely consumed on many cancer protocols because of the healing and antioxidants they contain.
      I consumed massive amounts of berries on the Budwig Protocol in 2010. I only had a 3% chance to survive 6 months from stage 4 stomach cancer.
      In conclusion, just go for the berries. Your body will thank you.

  5. Hey, if it’s ok,for farm workers to not have vote by,mail, then it’s not fair to have the general,population have vote by mail!!!
    The Democrats are THE TRUE RACISTS and they are discriminating against, and DISENFRANCHISING the mostly Hispanic farm workers!!!
    Democrats are ROBBING hardworking Hispanic farm workers from their fundamental liberties that are being FORCED on the population at large…
    Democrats are RACISTS!!!

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