Governor Jerry Brown Vetoes SB 25 and Approves AB 1897

Mon. September 29th, 2014
- by Andrew McDaniel     

SACRAMENTO, CA – Produce leaders are responding to California Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of Senate Bill 25 and approval of Assembly Bill 1897.

SB 25 would have changed the procedures in farm labor disputes to make it more difficult for California farmers to stall new contracts, and AB 1897 is a labor union-supported bill that will hold companies accountable for a subcontractor’s treatment of its employees

In a letter to Members of the California Senate, Governor Brown said that he would not be signing SB 25. “The bill is designed to expedite prompt enforcement of contracts derived from mandatory mediation. Both contract enforcement and election disputes should be dealt with so the process is balanced and fair. This bill only addresses contract enforcement.  We should look at the entire process before making further changes,” Brown said.

California Fresh Fruit Association President Barry Bedwell made the following statement this morning regarding Governor Jerry Brown's veto of SB 25:

"On behalf of the members of the California Fresh Fruit Association, I commend and thank Governor Brown for his veto of Senate Bill 25 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento). His veto of SB 25 preserves the ability to exercise fundamental due process rights and the authority of the Court to stay the enforcement of a mandatory contract borne out of binding arbitration while an appeal is pending. We strongly agree with the Governor that the process surrounding the Agricultural Labor Relations Act must be "balanced and fair". This bill only addressed the issue of contract enforcement while potentially limiting the legal rights of farmworkers and employers and therefore the Governor's veto was very appropriate."

Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif agreed, making the following statement about the veto:

“Governor Brown made a sound decision in vetoing SB 25.  We are grateful that he saw the fundamental unfairness of this proposal.  When a state mediator imposes a union contract on an employer, as the Agricultural Labor Relations Act provides, the employer has very limited opportunity to obtain a stay of its provisions from the court pending an appeal.  This legislation would have raised the barrier so high that it would be practically impossible for any employer to ever obtain a stay.  This is fundamentally unfair.  By further removing the courts from the process, SB 25 sought to diminish the already limited accountability of the state mediator and the ALRB, and in so doing would have provided even more motivation to the union to run out the clock in good faith bargaining in order to get to Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC), more properly known as mandatory mediation and binding arbitration.  We thank Governor Brown for making another difficult, but wise decision in this area.”

For AB 1897, Western Growers had a much different reaction.  Tom Nassif said in a statement:

“We are very disappointed in the governor’s decision to approve AB 1897. This labor union-sponsored bill will unfairly impose significant liability onto an innocent third-party employer for violations of wage and other obligations of a labor contractor even though the third-party employer does not control the contractor. All employers should be ensuring a safe work environment, the payment of wages, and workers’ compensation for their employees, and California has in recent years strengthened these laws and increased enforcement to focus on bad actors.  Creating liability for innocent third-party employers is unnecessary and harmful to our state’s job climate.”

As we previously reported, many California business leaders, including Nassif and Bedwell, spoke out against AB 1897. 

Stay tuned to AndNowUKnow as we track what effects this bill will have on the California produce industry.

Western Growers

California Fresh Fruit Association