A Victory for Agricultural Employers: Governor Brown Vetoes the Controversial Union Election Bill SB 104

Agricultural employers received a victory when Governor Brown vetoed SB 104, the controversial bill which would have made it dramatically easier for unions to organize employers subject to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (“ALRA”). SB 104 was patterned, in part, after the Employee Free Choice Act which has stalled in Congress. SB 104 would have permitted unions to be recognized as the exclusive bargaining representative of the targeted employees if the union provided the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (“ALRB”) with representation cards signed by a majority of the bargaining unit. The ALRB would have been required to certify the union as the exclusive bargaining representative for the employees without a secret ballot election or the ALRB could have provided the union 30 days to obtain additional cards if there was an issue regarding the cards submitted.

Although Governor Brown reminded the public that he signed into law the ALRA in a prior administration, the Governor acknowledged that SB 104 failed to balance the rights of employers. Specifically, the Governor stated:

SB 104 is indeed a drastic change and I appreciate the frustrations that have given rise to it. But, I am not yet convinced that the far reaching proposals of this bill–which alter in asignificant way the guiding assumptions of the ALRA—are justified. Before restructuring California’s carefully crafted agricultural labor law, it is only right that the legislature consider legal provisions that more faithfully track its original framework. The process should include all those who are affected by the ALRA. I am deeply committed to the success of the ALRA and stand ready to engage in whatever discussions—public and private—that will accomplish the appropriate changes.

See Governor Brown’s veto statement. Employers subject to the ALRA can celebrate during the Independence Day weekend knowing, at least for now, Sacramento recognized that there should be a fair balance between the rights of employers and employees.