Recently, Gov. Gray Davis delivered a stunning blow to
California agriculture with his decision to sign legislation that
would change the collective bargaining rights of employers by
imposing a process of binding
in contract disputes.
Recently, Gov. Gray Davis delivered a stunning blow to California agriculture with his decision to sign legislation that would change the collective bargaining rights of employers by imposing a process of binding “mediation” in contract disputes. This legislation gives a third party (mediator) license to draw up a binding contract during a bargaining impasse. This “mediator” then sets the terms of a contract which the Agricultural Labor Relations Board must approve. The only recourse for either party would be an expensive challenge in an appeals court.
The law is a classic example of a job-killer bill masquerading as compassionate legislation. As California Farm Bureau Federation President Bill Pauli said, “It’s not out of the realm of possibility that some family farmers, already squeezed by high production costs and poor prices, will be forced out of business by the unfair process of binding arbitration.”
California agriculture is now the only private-sector industry in the U.S. subject to binding collective bargaining requirements by a third party.
Unfortunately, the legislative culture in Sacramento encourages ever more regulations, restrictions and programs that cost businesses millions of dollars. Instead of promoting incentives like tax relief and reduced labor and workplace regulations, many legislators prefer to pass bills that sound good and appear benevolent, yet place financial burdens that drive businesses and jobs, including agriculture, out of the state. It is time for the California agricultural community to consider a “regime change” in Sacramento. We need legislators who possess common sense and will support legislation that does not jeopardize the economic viability of the agricultural industry. Unless farmers and ranchers work to support and elect candidates who understand that agriculture is a business and not merely an ATM machine ready to harvest for political advantage, the future looks bleak for California’s major industry.
Jane Howard, Gilroy, Candidate for Assembly, District 28
Submitted Wednesday, Oct. 16 to [email protected]