The bosses, united …

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week vetoed legislation that would have allowed farm workers to form unions by signing union cards rather than having to go through a costly union election campaign.

The bill, SB 180 by state Senator Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, would have made it easier to form unions. Current rules give employers considerable latitude to hire anti-union consultants and to spend months wearing down workers’ initial support for unionization. It would also have increased penalties for violating the rights of workers to organize.

In fact “card check” has become a major goal of the labor movement in recent years. Federal legislation called the Employee Free Choice Act would have extended the same rights to all workers—similar to the labor laws for U.S. government employees and workers in other industrialized countries like Canada and Germany—but it failed to pass the U.S. Senate.

Locally, union supporters are trying to win the right to card check authorization at the Blue Diamond almond plant in downtown Sacramento. (See “Holding all the cards,” SN&R Feature Story, August 30, 2007.)

The conservative Heritage Foundation said that federal card-check legislation “takes away workers rights” to a private ballot.

And the California Growers Association, in opposition to Migden’s bill, said, “The private ballot has come under attack, and California farm workers are the target!”

Schwarzenegger, carefully weighing all sides of the issue, declared in his veto message that, “This ‘card check’ process fundamentally alters an employee’s right to a secret ballot election.”

Apparently, when it comes to workers’ rights, business and the GOP are on the case.