The California State Assembly voted 41-24 Monday to barely pass Senate Bill 25 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento), a controversial bill to change mandatory mediation procedures in farm labor contract disputes.
The 41 yes votes were the minimum number required for passage. No Republicans voted for the bill and there were 12 Democrats who abstained which has the same impact as a no vote.
The California Grape & Tree Fruit League, together with a coalition of agricultural organizations including Western Growers, lobbied against the bill because they say it incentivizes a union to delay bargaining on a renewal contract and rewards a union for such inaction with an automatic trigger sending both parties into mandatory mediation and would deny due process.
Proponents, including the United Farm Workers union, say the bill is needed to avoid lengthy delays in contract disputes by forcing agricultural employers into mediation.
But the league says the bill, if signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, would result in the disenfranchisement of farm employees because the contract set by the mediator is not subject to farm employee ratification. Also, SB 25 will increase the evidentiary threshold (to “clear and convincing evidence”) for a court to grant a stay of an Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) order, reducing the likelihood that an ALRB order enacting a collective bargaining agreement on could be stayed.
The bill must go back to the house of origin (Senate) for concurrence, an agreement on amendments. Once the bill reaches Governor Brown’s desk he will have 12 days to sign or veto SB 25. If the governor fails to act the bill automatically becomes law.
The league says it will send out an update once the bill reaches the governor’s desk asking members to encourage Governor Brown to veto SB 25.