UFW President Arturo Rodriguez listens as Governor Jerry Brown
informs him he would veto SB 104
Last night, unable yet again to come to any agreement with the Grover Norquist crowd to raise revenue, the CA Dem Caucus and Governor Jerry Brown approved an all-cuts "austerity" budget that will disproportionately affect the poor, threaten public education, shutter 70 parks, and deliver a serious blow to law enforcement and a nascent mortgage fraud strike force — yet will do nothing to restore California's long-term financial health.
If that wasn't bad enough, Jerry Brown executed the coup de gråce at the eleventh hour last night by vetoing SB 104, a bill that would have made it easier for California's farm workers to organize.
Last night a crowd of farmworkers, UFW leaders, and Democratic legislators gathered in front of Governor Jerry Brown's Capitol office, awaiting word on whether he would sign SB 104, a bill that would help farmworker safety and prosperity by allowing them to organize unions via card check. The UFW pushed it after a rash of heat-related deaths in the fields in recent years, deaths that could have been prevented if more farmworkers had unions to protect them.
Brown had played up his connections to Cesar Chavez and the UFW during the campaign, and notably signed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 1975 recognizing the right of farmworkers to organize unions.
The governor's office had been silent on the bill, not giving any indication what he would do. As the midnight deadline for action approached, the crowd grew, especially after the legislature approved the budget, hoping for good news.
Instead they received a shock as Governor Brown vetoed SB 104, siding with big business over farmworkers. Brown's veto message doesn't really give any explanation for the veto, except that it changes the ALRA which, apparently, Brown wants to keep taking credit for even after its shortcomings have been revealed:
SB 104 is indeed a drastic change and I appreciate the frustrations that have given rise to it. But, I am not yet convinced that the far reaching proposals of this bill--which alter in a significant way the guiding assumptions of the ALRA--are justified. Before restructuring California's carefully crafted agricultural labor law, it is only right that the legislature consider legal provisions that more carefully track its original framework. The process should include all those who are affected by the ALRA.
In other words, Brown wants something that will make agribusiness happy - the same people who have shown no concern over farmworker heat deaths, who are happy to continue to pay workers poorly.
Gotta keep those grapes cheap.
Over the last couple of years, I've come to the conclusion that Democratic fecklessness isn't a bug, it's a fucking feature. At this point, they have no one but themselves to blame for allowing the Republican minority to hold this state hostage. They've refused at every opportunity to educate voters on the Republican agenda and it's affects on people's lives.
If anyone wants a reminder about what's at stake here, watch the video below. It's a spot I put together for the California Courage Campaign and the UFW two years ago urging the then-gubinatorial candidates to support card-check legislation.