On Friday, August 26, thousands of people meeting in the capitol building, including some fast food workers who had already been camping there in support of AB 257, as members of the United Farm Workers finished a 335-mile journey through the fields of California’s Central Valley. After marching for three weeks, often in temperatures above 100 degrees, workers and their supporters asked Newsom to sign his own bill, the Farm Labor Relations and Voter Choice Act, that would make it easier for workers in California’s fruit and vegetable fields. unions
There were reasons to be optimistic. After Newsom vetoed an earlier version of the bill last year, the UFW had worked with his office to come up with something they could agree on. Newsom had expressed support for him in principle. But despite the outpouring of support, just hours before the marching workers arrived at the capitol building, the governor said he couldn’t sign without some revisions. The UFW compromised with most of them. But at the end of the day, with the approval window disappearing, the governor was still insisting on a provision that ensures employers know exactly when a organizing effort is underway, from the moment ballots are mailed to workers.
“[T]have a given problem [employers’] documented history of intimidation and even deportation of workers known to support the union,” sacrament bee columnist Melinda Henneberger wrote from the news “Employers will eventually know when an election is going to be held, of course, and they may even know from the start… But telling employers up front when to coordinate with ICE—yes, it does happen—would take away from them workers even a fighting chance. chance to get organized.”