SACRAMENTO – This week, alongside advocates and farmworkers outside the State Capitol, Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation expanding union rights for farmworkers. This follows the Governor, United Farm Workers (UFW), and the California Labor Federation having agreed in a letter on clarifying language to be passed during next year’s legislative session to address Governor Newsom’s concerns around implementation and voting integrity. “California’s farmworkers are the lifeblood of our state, and they have the fundamental right to unionize and advocate for themselves in the workplace,” said Governor Newsom. “Our state has been defined by the heroic activism of farmworkers, championed by American icons like Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and Larry Itliong. California is proud to stand with the next generation of leaders carrying on this movement.” AB 2183 by Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) creates new ways for farmworkers to vote in a union election, including options for mail-in ballots, and authorization cards submitted to the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, in addition to the existing in-person voting process. The supplemental agreement between the Newsom Administration, UFW, and the California Labor Federation includes a cap on the number of card-check petitions over the next five years, and will allow the ALRB to adequately protect worker confidentiality and safety. This additional agreement would be codified into law with a bill next year that would be supported by both the administration and the union. The agreement will be codified with additional legislation next year backed by the union and the administration.
California has taken important actions to support farmworkers during Governor Newsom’s first term, with critical investments in the development and preservation of farmworker housing, creating farmworker resource centers, investing in new protections from extreme heat and protecting farmworkers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. California has also made investments to address barriers related to immigration status that also impact many farmworkers, including access to health care, food assistance for immigrants over the age of 55, free immigration services and anti-poverty programs.
This legislation also builds on the state’s action to support workers and advance workplace safety. Earlier this year, Governor Newsom signed landmark legislation to empower fast-food workers with a new mechanism for enacting wage and workplace protections to support their health, safety and welfare. Last year, the Governor signed legislation to protect warehouse workers from unsafe production quotas and nation-leading legislation to end exploitative piece-rate compensation for garment industry workers. The Governor also signed a measure directing Cal/OSHA to create an advisory committee to recommend state policies to protect domestic workers and a bill to ensure that workers with disabilities are paid a fair wage. In 2019, the Governor signed legislation giving child care workers the right to join a union and collectively bargain with the state.