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July 2022, Volume 28, Number 3


Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) worked a day in June 2022 on Muranaka Farms, which has a UFW contract. Padilla supports the Farm Workforce Modernization Act to legalize unauthorized farm workers and make it easier for farm employers to employ H-2A guest workers.

ALRB. ALJs issued 13 decisions and the ALRB issued three decisions in 2020-21, two of which were appealed to the courts. The GC received 67 ULP charges and issued 13 ULP complaints. There was one election in 2020-21 that saw Teamsters Local 1932 certified to represent the employees of Tikun Olam Adelanto, a cannabis grower.

AB 2183 would allow unions to be certified to represent California farm workers without a secret ballot or polling place election if a majority of employees signed union authorization cards collected over one year, the so-called card-check election procedure. UFW founder Cesar Chavez insisted that the state conduct secret ballot elections to determine if farm workers want to be represented by a union to avoid having growers sign contracts with the Teamsters union without elections.

The UFW sought card-check after losing an election at Giumarra Vineyards on September 1, 2005, when table grape workers voted 1,121 to 1,246, or 47-53 percent, against the UFW. The UFW was expecting to win because it had signed cards from over 2,000 Giumarra workers, but some of these workers apparently voted for no union. The UFW had a contract with Giumarra from 1970 to 1973, and Giumarra workers voted against the UFW in an ALRB-supervised election in 1977.

Previous card-check bills approved by the Legislature were vetoed by governors in 2010, 2011, and 2021.

AB 2183 would allow employers to be fined up to $10,000 if they failed to provide a list of their current employees with street addresses and contact information to the ALRB after a union files a petition that shows it has at least 10 percent support among employees. The ALRB would give the employee list to the union trying to organize workers, and employers could also face fines for other violations of the ALRA. Employers who appeal ALRB orders to the courts would have to post bonds for the amounts sought by the ALRB.

Unions. The unionization efforts at Amazon, which has a million US employees, and Starbucks with 250,000 employees, diverged in 2022. Employees at 250 Starbucks restaurants with 6,800 workers petitioned the NLRB for union votes as of May 2022. Most workers voted for a union during the elections held at 150 of Starbuck’s 9,000 corporate-owned restaurants, while most workers in Amazon warehouses rejected unions.

Starbucks restaurants are small. The median Starbucks restaurant that voted to unionize had 28 employees, slightly more than the median 21 employees in all bargaining units in 2021. Amazon warehouses often have 5,000+ employees, making it harder for organizers to make personal appeals to workers.

The 8,300 workers employed at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse on Staten Island voted 2,654 to 2,131 in April 2022 to be represented by the independent Amazon Labor Union. Amazon asked the NLRB not to certify the ALU, citing actions by the ALU and the NLRB. Amazon warehouses have very high worker turnover, often over 100 percent per year, so that the workers employed under a contract that takes months to negotiate may not be the same workers as those who voted in the election. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama appear to have rejected union representation for a second time in spring 2022.

Apple has over 270 retail stores in the US, and in June 2022 the employees of an Apple store in Townsend, Maryland voted 65-33 for a union to represent them. Apple increased minimum wages for store workers to $22 an hour and campaigned against the union.

President Biden in February 2022 issued an executive order that requires contractors and subcontractors on construction projects that receive $35 million or more in federal monies to sign “project labor agreements” with unions that establish wages and working conditions on the project. Federal grants, including those made to states under the $1 trillion infrastructure bill signed in 2021, do not require project labor agreements.

Biden addressed the AFL-CIO convention in Philadelphia in June 2022, seeking to win union member support for Democrats. Almost 10 percent of 2020 voters were union members, and 55 percent of them voted for Biden. AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler said that Biden must do more to explain what his administration is doing for working Americans.

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