Friday, April 1, 2011
As California celebrates Cesar Chavez Day, the state Senate has passed a bill giving farmworkers another path to unionization.
The legislation would allow workers to organize when a majority signs petition cards and submits them to a state board. Currently a secret ballot is the only route to unionization. The bill sparked a contentious Senate floor debate.
"Can the legislature be so arrogant that on Cesar Chavez Day we are taking the rights of secret ballot away from farm workers and undermine the efforts of Chavez?" said Republican Senator Joel Anderson. "Yes, we can."
Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wrote the bill. He says the secret ballot wouldn’t disappear, but rather the new bill creates an alternative.
"It’s not about the so-called secret ballot," said Steinberg. "Opponents are afraid that more farm workers will end up with collective bargaining and the benefits that go with it."
The bill has been approved in the legislature several times over the last few years but was vetoed by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.