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RB_Jerry_Brown_Budget.JPGGov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have given thousands of Medi-Cal interpreters the right to join a public employee union and bargain collectively with the state.

Assembly Bill 1263, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, D-Los Angeles, would have established a certification process and registry of medical interpreters, a measure proponents said would better regulate a service that is critical to patients who do not speak English.

But the bill was also significant to labor unions that believe implementation of the federal healthcare overhaul will result in a wave of new patients and medical professionals they hoped to add to their union ranks.

The Democratic governor avoided the matter of collective bargaining in his veto message, focusing only on the bureaucracy a new certification process would require.

"California has embarked on an unprecedented expansion to add more than a million people to our Medi-Cal program," he wrote. "Given the challenges and the many unknowns the state faces in this endeavor, I don't believe it would be wise to introduce yet another complex element."

The legislation was backed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and opposed by the National Right to Work Committee.

The bill would have given Medi-Cal interpreters the right to vote to unionize as non-public employees who are ineligible for state pension or other benefits.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown discusses the state budget at a news conference at the state Capitol in Sacramento in January. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton



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