WatchSonoma Watch

A tough choice for Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown is facing a choice that pits his longtime allies in the farm labor movement against business groups he’s been cultivating for support on a special election to extend temporary taxes.

A bill that’s almost certain to land on Brown’s desk soon would allow farm workers to form unions without a secret-ballot election. Under card check rules, a union would be recognized if a majority of a farm’s employees signed union cards. It’s a change long-sought by organized labor and opposed by the Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

Brown marched with United Farmworkers founder Cesar Chavez and, like many Democratic officeholders, has close ties with organized labor. However, his state budget plan is contingent on an extension of temporary income, sales and vehicle license taxes. During his campaign, Brown pledged to submit all tax increases to the voters, and he has gotten support for a special election – though not necessarily the taxes – from the state chamber and some other business interests.

So, will he risk alienating business by signing SB 104, the card-check bill, or veto a measure backed by supporters in labor?

What do you think he should do?

– Jim Sweeney

19 Responses to “A tough choice for Jerry Brown”

  1. GAH says:

    There is a divide here that is hard for me to comprehend. Why would a worker not want a secret ballot? I have to assume there is support for card check, beyond union management. To me, this issue is not about greedy farmers or union thugs, it is about the worker’s right to vote, based on how he or she thinks, without pressure from anyone. From my side of the divide, a secret ballot is the only way to go.

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  2. ECVineyards says:

    @ Paul I and Ron S

    The moderator asked me to revise my first post because it wasn’t especially civil. I was glad to and I made my points better without any degrading of others. I’m done.

    You two are ignorant. Please check out this link: http://www.robledofamilywinery.com/the_robledo_story.html

    Why don’t you do research on how many winemakers came up from the fields. My winemaker is one.

    If we were to reform our system that does not include amnesty for all, we could have a guest worker system that does NOT lead to residency and citizenship. Why should we reward a corrupt, dysfunctional government to our south that relies on our economy to keep their shabby economy crawling along.

    Also, on the other side of the argument, yes I see both sides, saying that illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes is utterly false. Millions, if not billions, of dollars are taken out of undocumented worker’s paycheck and are never claimed by the worker in the form of federal tax refund, state tax refund, Social Security Retirement Benefits, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security Disability Benefits, and how many other programs they would have been entitled to. This state would be in even a worse pathetic state than it is now. And, don’t forget about the sales tax they pay.

    Wise up people.

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  3. Don S. says:

    The wine industry is built on the backs of illegal aliens forced to live in culverts and under bridges. More evidence of the self centered, “Look At Me” life style of the Sonoma-Napa yuppies! ALL middle class folks in the region subsidize the WINO’s with health care, and educational subsidies to hispanic farm workers, while facing ever shrinking paychecks.

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  4. Paul I. says:

    I do not see any poor folks owning wineries, or working in them in sales and marketing and in fact just about everything except vineyard work and bottling.

    These folks are a huge percentage not from Sonoma or Napa or Lake but good businessman from all over the World.

    Stories like Kenwood Winery buying from Pugani in 71 no longer are relevant. It is rich folks with rich anti union ideas that made them rich. Look at the story about Hobbs Winery in Sebastopol. It is like this times 1000.

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  5. ECVineyards says:

    Mockingbird – please re-read the first line of my first paragraph. They already have the right to organize. Do you know any farm workers? The “Blood on those grapes” campaign was a scare tactic by unions trying to get farm workers organized.

    Your first paragraph is off topic. I wonder why the moderator allowed them in here. I’m in Lake County where grapes have helped increase the tourism traffic here. And, yes I have the right to comment in a Sonoma website because the issue affects me. I take it that this issue doesn’t affect you one bit (except you will be paying even higher prices at the greengrocer).

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  6. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    EC Vineyards-living in Sonoma County for over 42 years I am not enamored with the wine industry as a lot of people are. I have seen the changes the vineyards have done to this county and it makes me sick. Tearing out native habitat including vernal pools and rock formations for vineyard after vineyard causing flooding in places we never saw in the 70′s and 80′s.

    As for the field workers, the opposite of what you said could be true. I remember not eating grapes for years and years in protest of Gallo and it’s treatment of farmworkers. I think it’s best that everything is out in the open and above board. The unions can spot those who might have been pressured by the vineyard owners as well. I believe that’s why the unions want it out in the open.

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  7. ECVineyards says:

    Mockingbird, farmworkers already have the right to organize. It takes a majority vote of those workers to be represented.That’s the way it’s done in most states and industries.

    This bill takes away the right to vote in a secret ballot, the same right you have when you step into a voting booth. What that means is that the people representing the prospective union would be able to know who did and who did not vote to unionize, it’s called “Card Check”. That could lead to unwanted pressure and even threats towards the worker voting “the wrong way”. I don’t know if the employer would have access, but I know the union would.

    The bill also allows union representation by a simple majority of those voting, instead a majority of those to be represented. This may be fine on it’s surface, as it’s how we elect our leaders and pass initiatives. But if you wanted to later decertify the union, it would require a majority of those represented, not the simple majority it took to unionize. That would be like recalling an elected official requiring 51% of the people of voting age voting for it. It’s not really fair, is it?

    Most of the workers I deal with don’t want to unionize. They’re happy to have the work, especially in this economy. They already see the mechanization of the fields, orchards and vineyards taking their jobs away. They know if they demand higher wages, it just makes more mechanization more economical for the farmers. The only positive remarks I hear about Cesar Chavez come from Hispanics not working in agriculture.

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  8. Dan Delgado says:

    UnIon Bro,

    My how you do carry on. It isn’t worth anyone’s time to sift through your post and address each point raised. So, and just for the sake of argument, let’s assume all employers are the evil snake-bite you describe them to be. Which then do you prefer – a job you are free to leave if you find either the wages or the employer intolerable, or, standing by helplessly as the union you didn’t want to join in the first place sticks it’s greedy hands into your paycheck and removes a healthy chunk of so-called union dues to support it’s bloated administration and an agenda you don’t support? Who is the real evil here? The employer who at personal financial risk builds a business that provides you a job, or the union thug who forces you to join his union? That union thug is just a leech sucking away your hard earned dollars.

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  9. Care About Workers says:

    Pro-Union or Anti-Union is not the point of this post. This is not about allowing SECRETE ballot elections (as they are now). This is about unions “right” to look over the shoulder of a worker, while he/she signs a card, which in effect, is the vote. The Union reps can do this while standing in the workers house! There is no notice to employers, there is no two sides to the choice. Most fair minded people would see this as unbalanced. A reasonable person would never sign this into law.

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  10. Union Bro says:

    @ beef king…
    Take a minute to think of your statement in reverse, instead of the law being needed to protect workers from so called ‘union thugs’ what about a law to protect workers from the REAL THUGS? You know, the employer? The one who would much rather be able to make all workers lower paid, non-benefitted chattel. Workers, all workers, each and every one of us need to be protected from the mighty mighty employer who is sitting in the driver seat of the machine that is rapidly killing the American economy. This machine that we call greed. The employer’s greed for capital is so strong and being fed more and more each day by the scared and uneducated citizenry that there may come a day when the path we are currently on will reach it’s destination. A destination we don’t ever want to reach and one we never thought would be possible here in America…the destination of becoming a Third-world country. Now talk about going things going to hell-in-a-handbasket…

    Now, more so than ever, we need to stand up together and fight against the greed that is tearing our country to shreds. Now is the time to realize that the unions are not the enemy they have just been demonized so much that we have been trained to think that way. Let’s think of someone that we know who is a union member and then think about that person as a person. Is he/she a ‘union thug’? Think about this now…how many of us are union workers? How many of us have relatives that are union workers? How many of us have friends that are union workers? It’s like 6 degrees of union seperation, we should start talking to each other more and get the movement started to take out country back and make it great once again!!!

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  11. Beef King says:

    The secret ballot must be maintained by law to protect those who might be targeted by Union thugs for opposing union leadership.
    The fact that Brown even has to think twice about the safety of workers says that he has failed as governor of all Californians, and that he has always been in the pocket of criminal union thugs.

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  12. Bill says:

    Unions are little different from big business these days.When the average employee who is non union gets the same deal as the union member then unions will become relevant again. Until then unions are little more than shells for insurance companies.

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  13. Catherine says:

    Jerry Brown was a horrible governor the first time, and still is horrible. Get rid of him!

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  14. Sarky Fish says:

    I think the Press Democrat is a liberal newspaper that for too long has been ignoring its essential, majority middle-of the-road readership.

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  15. srk says:

    Cesar Chavez was an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration. He thought it caused lower wages. Anything that strengthens wages and working conditions reduces the need for undocumented workers. Union rights fits the bill.

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  16. Sue Major says:

    What do we think Jerry should do asks the PD?

    Resign and get out of Dodge! This is more BS from a BS governor who is so far left he falls off the slide.

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  17. MOCKINGBIRD says:

    Some of the hardest work in the state is done by farmworkers. California needs these workers. They deserve the right to organize. Of prime importance is safe working conditions to prevent heat related deaths. California has been negligent in this area. Unions will speak out for the employees and report violations.

    Brown should do the right thing and allow these workers the protection of union representation.

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  18. quinton kkruse says:

    Yes! Sign Jerry sign!

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  19. GAJ says:

    Eliminating secret ballots makes little sense to any fair minded individual.

    If it is appropriate when voting for Political candidates then it should be appropriate when voting on Union matters.

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