Agricultural trade groups welcomed California Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill that would have put a mediator’s decision in a labor dispute immediately into effect, even if an appeal were filed.
But Brown drew fire as well for signing a separate measure, Assembly Bill 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,” Western Growers president and chief executive officer Tom Nassif said of AB 1897 in a statement.
“Creating liability for innocent third-party employers is unnecessary and harmful to our state’s job climate,” Nassif said.
Brown’s Sept. 28 veto fell on Senate Bill 25, authored by senate president pro tem Darrell Steinberg, a Sacramento Democrat. It would have affected cases like that of Fresno, Calif.-based Gerawan Farming Inc. The grower-shipper pursued appeals following arbitration, part of an ongoing dispute with United Farm Workers.
The veto preserves due process rights and court authority to stay contract enforcement while appeals pend, according to California Fresh Fruit Association president Barry Bedwell.
“This bill only addressed the issue of contract enforcement while potentially limiting the legal rights of farm workers and employers, and therefore the governor’s veto was very appropriate,” Bedwell said in a statement.
Western Growers also welcomed the veto.
“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,” Nassif said. “This legislation would have raised the barrier so high that it would be practically impossible for any employer to ever obtain a stay.”