BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Assembly Bill 616 passed in the senate Thursday, August 26. The bill will change the way agriculture workers join a union and do away with the previous secret ballots elections making way for a mail-in ballot system.
President of the California Farm Bureau Jamie Johansson expressed extreme disappointment over the senate vote and stressed that the mail-in ballot system is nothing like the one we see in general elections.
“Most people think about how we participate now particularly during the pandemic of a mail-in ballot, but this is an election not run by the state of California but by independent organizations to have a self-interest in having employees unionize,” said Johansson.
Johansson believes this bill leaves farmworkers open to intimidation at home.
This is why Johannsson said it was so important for Kern County residents to take their opposition of the bill to the capital on Thursday.
Some senators agree with Johannsson like District 16 senator Shannon Groove and District 14 senator Melissa Hurtado.
Other senators disagree with California Farm Bureau and said what this bill would do is no different than what the mail-in ballots did for California residents during the elections.
“This bill is simple my friends it is about allowing a different option for farmworkers to vote,” said Senator Connie M. Leyva.
“This bill if you look at the language and the bill analysis requires these ballots that we’re referring to be sealed in envelopes and signed by the actual employee,” said Senator Dave Cortese.
Still, the California Farm Bureau felt it was pertinent to rally against this bill and are calling for Governor Newsom to instead act on the critical water storage and conveyance projects which they say are urgently needed in California.
No matter where you stand on the issue both sides say there is still time to express your support.
“We have set up that people can send electronic email expressing their wishes that he veto this bill and you can always contact the governor directly on the governor's website,” said Johansson.