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Controversial Farmworker Bill Passes Assembly

Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would make it easier for farm workers to obtain union contracts with their employers.  As Ben Adler reports from Sacramento, the measure passed Monday with the bare minimum votes needed – despite strong opposition from growers.

The measure would require binding mediation if unions and farmers can’t reach a collective bargaining agreement – and give the Agriculture Labor Relations Board the power to enforce a mediator’s decision.  Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray says the proposal wouldn’t tilt the playing field unfairly in either direction.

“This bill is about finding agreement should negotiations break down through a fair process and upholding the integrity of collective bargaining,” says Gray.

But growers fear the measure would stack the deck against them – and mounted a heavy lobbying effort against it.  Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway says she’s worried about the measure’s unintended consequences.

“Why would you ever negotiate with an employer when you can get an amenable mediator to impose a contract,” asks Conway.

The bill now goes back to the Senate for a final vote.

Joe Moore is the President and General Manager of KVPR / Valley Public Radio. He has led the station through major programming changes, the launch of KVPR Classical and the COVID-19 pandemic. Under his leadership the station was named California Non-Profit of the Year by Senator Melissa Hurtado (2019), and won a National Edward R. Murrow Award for investigative reporting (2022).