Legislation, Unions & Organized Labor

Opinion: Farm Workers Should Not be Bothered at Home

From RecordNet.com, Phil Brumley, 28 May 2011.

Phil Brumley is president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

There were some inaccuracies in The Record’s May 17 story, “Farm union bill passes in Assembly.”

First, the story implied that this bill would make it easier for agricultural workers to unionize. The current process could not be easier for workers as all they are required to do is step into a private voting booth and cast their ballot.

With Senate Bill 104, union officials will be given the home address of each worker so they can “collect” signature cards from them. How ironic. If someone proposed to let either the Democratic or Republican party have access to your home so they can collect votes for candidates, the response would be a quick and decisive no from the voters of our state. No, because we like to get into that booth and decide for ourselves who is best to represent us. It’s too bad our workers in agriculture will lose this right should the governor sign this into law.

We are deeply concerned what will happen when union organizers have access to the homes of employees and they are unsupervised as they collect their ballot. The potential for threats and misleading individuals is great and could lead our workers to fear for their safety. Additionally, once an employee signs a card in favor of the union, this card is valid for one year and cannot be changed. So, if they change their mind, that’s too bad, their original signature to form a union stands.

Furthermore, the theme of this story points to unsafe conditions working in agricultural operations as a reason for this bill moving forward. However, this bill does nothing to change any requirements to protect the health and safety of workers, which is something we strive to improve every day we operate our farms and ranches. We and other organizations in agriculture have increased the outreach to farms and employees to make sure everyone has information on how to best protect our family members and employees from heat illness. This bill does nothing to assist in this process.

This bill is another attempt to drive business out of California by making unionization of workers for every type of industry a requirement to do business in our state. Additionally, it turns over private information for each employee to labor union organizers. Giving out someone’s home address because the labor union demands it is not good policy for the agricultural employees or our region and is not good policy for the state.

Please cast your vote for secret ballot elections by asking the governor to veto SB104.

Phil Brumley is president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation.

Source: RecordNet.com, “Farm workers should not be bothered at home” by Phil Brumley, 28 May 2011.

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