César Chávez championed worker choice

Q: Did César Chávez support farm workers to vote on whether or not they wanted union representation?

A: Yes. The labor hero was a strong backer of the country’s first law to ensure farm workers’ right to organize. According to the National Park Service’s César E. Chávez National Monument, “The enduring legacies of César E. Chávez and the farm worker movement include passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, the first law in the U.S. that recognized farm workers’ collective bargaining rights.”

Governor Jerry Brown and César Chávez, four years after the 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act which gave farm workers the right to choose.

Governor Jerry Brown and César Chávez, four years after the 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act which gave farm workers the right to choose.

Q: Did Chávez back the law ensuring farm workers the right to choose?

A: Yes. César Chávez supported creation of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), which was established under the 1975 law signed by Governor Jerry Brown. The ALRB states that it was created to support worker choice: “Under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (Act), Farm workers have the right to choose whether or not they wish to be represented by a union by voting in a secret ballot election.”

Q: Did Chávez support the workers’ right to get rid of a union if they didn’t like it?

A: Yes. Under the law that Chávez championed, according to the ALRB, “Only unions certified by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) after the ALRB conducts an election may represent workers. If workers are already represented by a union, but some workers want the union to stop representing them, the ALRB can also conduct a secret ballot election so all workers can vote whether or not to decertify or remove the union.”

Cesar blue pickQ: What if I don’t want to join a union? 

A: That’s exactly what the ALRB asks in its Q&A sheet. “The decision whether or not to support a union is your decision,” says ALRB, in an explicit endorsement of worker choice. “You have the right to express your opinion by engaging in all of the types of activities available to those who support the union. For example, you have the right to speak to other workers about why you don’t want a union. If an election takes place, you have the right to vote ‘No Union’ in secret.”

Q: So why is the ALRB denying workers the right to vote on whether to decertify the union?

A: The farm workers have been asking ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver and General Counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen the same question about why they’re denying worker choice. And those two won’t give straight answers.

Comments are closed