(UPDATED COVERAGE – 1:50 p.m.) Leaders of California’s agricultural industry are applauding Gov. Jerry Brown’s late-night June 28 rejection of a so-called card check bill.

“We’re very, very pleased and applaud the governor for vetoing this bill,” said Jim Bogart, president and general counsel of the Salinas-based Grower-Shipper Association of Central California. “Our members feel the only way the workers truly have a free choice in deciding whether to be represented by a union is in the sanctity and privacy of a voting booth.”

The bill would have enabled unions to bypass elections by urging the majority of a grower’s workers to sign cards, and would have essentially gutted portions of the state’s 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act, which Brown championed during his first term in the governor’s office.

“The governor was the author and the founding father of the ALRA,” said Manuel Cunha, president of the Fresno-based Nisei Farmers League. “His veto message was very clear: if there are problems with the act, let’s make it better.”

Tom Nassif, president and chief executive officer of Western Growers, Irvine, Calif., also praised Brown’s decision.

“We are heartened that the governor has rededicated himself to this important principle, that the secret ballot must be the exclusive means of determining the true wishes of the workers,” he said. “Gov. Brown has done the right thing and preserved the heart and soul of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act.”

The governor’s veto message reflected what the Fresno-based California Grape and Tree Fruit League has been proposing since the card check issue first surfaced, said Barry Bedwell, president.

“What he has done in this particular case, I think, is do an honest, intellectual evaluation of the bill and come to the conclusion that it was too drastic and that we need to review and evaluate the current law to see if it truly does need repairing,” he said.

In his veto message, Brown suggested that any changes to existing law should include all parties affected by the ALRA. There have been attempts in the past to address perceived problems with the bill, Cunha said, “but the United Farm Workers union refused to participate.”

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed four other California card check bills.

“I think what we have here is an indication that Gov. Jerry Brown is a different and unique kind of leader,” Bedwell said.