California: Agricultural Workers Can More Easily Create Labor Unions
Employers with CA Agricultural Employees
January 1, 2023
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Agricultural workers in California now have easier options to vote for or against unionization. AB 2089 expands voting options by allowing voting at a physical location or by mailing or dropping off a representation ballot card to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) office. Agricultural workers can also receive assistance to fill out and return their representation ballot card so long as the person who is assisting them co-signs the card and it is returned in a sealed and signed envelope. This is a significant change from the existing law which requires a secret ballot vote at a polling place designated by the ALRB. Workers must present their identification card or check stub to receive a ballot and cast a confidential vote. If eligibility is questioned, then the ballot is submitted to the ALRB for review.
The law further allows a labor organization to be certified as the exclusive bargaining representative of a bargaining unit through either a labor peace election or a non-labor peace election, depending on whether an employer agrees to a labor peace election. A labor peace election would be a mail ballot election and a non-labor peace election would allow a process for the submission of a petition with proof of majority support subject to certification by the board. For a labor peace compact, an employer would agree to make no statements for or against union representation to its employees or publicly, in any written or oral form, at any time during employee hire, rehire, or orientation, or after certain documents regarding organization are filed with the board. An employer is allowed to communicate truthful statements to employees regarding workplace policies or benefits.
An agricultural employer who commits an unfair labor practice could be fined an amount not to exceed $10,000 for each violation and not to exceed $25,000 for specified violations. Employers with agricultural workers should review the law with legal counsel to be aware of specific changes to the existing unionization process.
- Review the bill here.
- Consult with legal counsel to determine how specific provisions may apply.
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