While many employers have focused their attention on the stalled Employee Free Choice Act over the past few years, another more targeted bill has quietly made its way through the California legislature. Senate Bill 104, the “Fair Treatment of Farmworkers Act,” would effectively eliminate secret ballot elections for organizing farmworkers by creating a “card check” alternative. Currently, farmworkers who want union representation go through a secret ballot process. Under the alternative “card check” procedure, a labor representative need only submit a petition and cards signed by a majority of your farmworkers. The labor representative can quietly gather the cards over a period up to one year, and they do not need to disclose to the farmworker the significance or meaning of the document they are signing. After a brief investigation, you’ve got a union. From that point on penalties for missing deadlines or committing unfair labor practices are steep: ranging from $5,000-$20,000 per occurrence. The bill is currently awaiting Governor Brown’s signature. Once it passes, its effects may be felt quickly, so take this opportunity to make sure your house is in order.
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