Capitol Alert

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With labor unions pressing him again on legislation to make it easier to organize farmworkers, Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he remains opposed to so-called "card-check" legislation, but he proposed a package of compromise measures to protect workers from grower interference.

"This is not a time for fundamental changes in a law that has only been changed once since I signed it in 1975," Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, told The Bee before speaking at a green energy conference in Las Vegas.

Brown said he has proposed to Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg changes to existing law to reduce the time by which growers can delay bargaining and to allow for the immediate reinstatement of employees unfairly fired during organizing drives, among other measures.

The Democratic governor said his proposal "does speed things up, and it does provide a remedy."

The "card-check" legislation would provide unionizing farmworkers an alternative to the secret ballot, letting unions organize them instead through signed petition cards. Brown said such a bill is "not something I'm going to do in the last week of the session."

He said, "If people want more far reaching changes, those should be the subject of more deliberation that involves workers, growers ... academics, and other interested parties."

Brown vetoed a similar bill in June despite intense pressure from fellow Democrats and labor allies, touching off an emotional protest at the Capitol.

The California Chamber of Commerce called the bill a "job killer," and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, vetoed the legislation four times in four years.

Farmworkers plan to protest at the Capitol on Sunday.



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