BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Assembly Bill 6-16 passed in the senate Thursday, August 26. The bill changes the way agriculture workers join a union.
It does away with previous secret ballot elections, making way for a mail-in ballot system. The passage received a mix of responses.
Some said farmworkers are now put in the spotlight and vulnerable to political pressure after ab616 passed 23 to 11 in the senate. Others disagreed
The bill passed on the Senate floor less than 5 days ago leaving several senators and farm labor organizations upset.
If AB6-16 is signed by the governor, president of California Farm Bureau, Jamie Johansson said that it will take away farmer workers’ fundamental right to vote in private.
“Most likely it involves people going to a farmer employees’ home with a card already pre-filled out all they need is the employee signature saying would you like to join the union. Very intimidating when someone shows up to your home and asks your opinion on a subject as personal as worker representation,” said Johansson.
Senator Connie M. Leyva said even though the way workers will vote to unionize has changed their voices are still heard and their choices kept confidential.
“I want to assure you that in this particular bill your ballot is kept secret. Unless someone helps you then it is not kept secret. So, we’re not taking away anyone’s rights here,” said Leyva.
Still, others believed bigger issues face farmworkers, and more focus should be put on struggles felt around the state.
“We’re talking about our food supply chain, we’re talking about the livelihood of individuals, of growers and not enough is being done to protect both farmworker and farmers,” said senator Melissa Hurtado.