SB 1474 Steinberg

This bill would have increased union representation of agricultural employees even when it is against the will of employees by undermining the process that now guarantees, through secret-ballot elections, a fair vote and the expression of agricultural employees’ true sentiments on the selection of a collective bargaining representative. Specifically, the bill would have authorized the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to set aside an election where employer misconduct affected the outcome of the election, and to certify a labor organization as the exclusive bargaining representative for a bargaining unit if the organization had previously presented the board with authorization cards signed by more than 50% of the employees in that bargaining unit.

Vetoed 09/30/10. In his veto message, the Governor stated:

“I am returning Senate Bill (SB) 1474 without my signature.

This bill would require the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) to set aside an election in which there has been misconduct by the employer that affected the outcome of the election and require the ALRB to certify a labor organization as the exclusive bargaining representative if it had been established that at least 50 percent of the employees to be represented signed authorization cards prior to the election.

Currently, the ALRB has the authority to set aside an election, based on objections by either the employer or the labor organization, and order a rerun election if a new election would further the purpose of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

The provisions of SB 1474 represent a serious departure from existing law. The provisions of this bill tip the scale in favor of the union by only allowing the ALRB to consider any misconduct, which is not defined, by the employer when making the determination to set aside the election, but does not take into consideration the possibility that the employer may have similar allegations of election misconduct by the labor organization. This remedy should only be allowed in cases where the ALRB finds the possibility of erasing the effects of past unfair labor practices and of ensuring a fair election is slight, and that employee sentiment once expressed through cards would, on balance, be better protected by a bargaining order.  

Finally, in order for me to sign a bill that alters the secret ballot election, the provisions governing a certification election should also govern a decertification election. Overturning and reversing secret ballot election results should not be taken lightly and may be appropriate in only the most egregious cases.

For these reasons, I am unable to sign this bill.”