Steinberg labor bill killed in committee

June 13, 2013

By Katy Grimes


In a shocking turn of events yesterday, a controversial labor union bill authored by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, was killed by an Assembly committee today.

SB 25, sponsored by the United Farm Workers, proposed to make numerous and dramatic changes to the mandatory mediation process added to the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 2002.

As Senate President, Steinberg does not usually present his own bills. One of his staff members presented SB 25 to the Assembly Labor and Employment Committee , but it clearly didn’t go as planned.

What the current mediation process is…

The current mandatory mediation process was enacted by two bills in 2002 —  SB 1156 by Sen. John Burton, and AB 2596 by Assemblyman Herb Wesson —  “would impose binding arbitration when growers refuse to agree to union contracts,” according to the United Farm Workers.

Currently, an agricultural employer or a labor union can ask for the mandatory mediation process if the parties have failed to reach agreement, or if the employer has committed an unfair labor pBut ractice, or if the parties have not previously had a binding contract between them.

Steinberg’s bill, would create a perpetual contract mediation process, taking out the need to negotiate, according to the bill’s opponents.

“Opponents contend that this bill expands mandatory mediation under the ALRA to all future contract negotiations, and allows for mediator-created collective bargaining agreements, the bill analysis says. “They argue that this will disenfranchise agricultural workers by unionizing workers, years or even decades after a union abandoned negotiations. Opponents argue that this bill will impose union membership on these workers along with the obligation to support the union financially regardless of whether those workers chose union representation.”

SB 25 would permit an agricultural union to serve upon an agriculture employer a request for mandatory mediation to demand bargaining immediately and forego existing requirements in the law as a prelude to invoking the mandatory mediation process.

The vote

The surprising vote was 3-1 with two Democrats abstaining. Steinberg’s representative couldn’t get enough votes to pass SB 25 out of the committee. However Committee Chairman Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, granted reconsideration of the bill.

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