Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown vetoes farm labor bill

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have changed procedures in farm labor disputes to make it harder for California farmers to stall new contracts.

Senate Bill 25, by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, would have allowed the state’s Agriculture Labor Relations Board to implement farm labor contracts secured through mandatory mediation even if employers appeal.

Proponents of the bill, including the United Farm Workers union, said the legislation was necessary to avoid delays in contract disputes. Opponents argued the legislation would give labor unions unfair leverage in negotiations.

The measure passed the Legislature largely along partisan lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

Brown signed the landmark Agricultural Labor Relations Act and vetoed legislation to weaken farmworker unions when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, but he has had a mixed relationship with the farm workers union since returning to office in 2011.

The Democratic governor said in a veto message that contract enforcement and labor election disputes “should be dealt with so the process is balanced and fair,” but that the Steinberg legislation addresses only contract enforcement.

“We should look at the entire process before making further changes,” Brown wrote.

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