BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    ”

                                                                  SB 25
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          SB 25 (Steinberg)
          As Amended  June 19, 2013
          Majority vote 

           SENATE VOTE  :23-10    
           LABOR & EMPLOYMENT          4-2 JUDICIARY             6-3       
          |Ayes:|Roger HernŠndez, Chau,    |Ayes:|Wieckowski, Chau,         |
          |     |Gomez, Holden             |     |Dickinson, Garcia,        |
          |     |                          |     |Muratsuchi, Stone         |
          |Nays:|Morrell, Gorell           |Nays:|Wagner, Gorell,           |
          |     |                          |     |Maienschein               |
           SUMMARY  :   Makes various changes to the mandatory mediation  
          procedures of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA).   
          Specifically,  this bill  :

          1)Deletes the requirement of existing law that, for labor  
            organizations certified after January 1, 2003, the mandatory  
            mediation process would only apply for an initial request to  

          2)Provides that an agricultural employer or labor organization  
            may file an order to enforce a mandatory mediation order from  
            the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) even if a party  
            seeks appellate review of the decision.

          3)Requires the parties to implement the terms of the ALRB's  
            order while a petition for a writ of review is pending.

          4)Provides that a court may only issue a stay of an ALRB order  
            unless it finds and states in its initial findings that:

             a)   The appellant has demonstrated by clear and convincing  
               evidence that he or she will be irreparably harmed by  
               implementation of the order; and

             b)   The appellant has demonstrated by clear and convincing  
               evidence a likelihood of success on appeal.


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          5)Provides that a court granting a stay of an ALRB order shall  
            provide written findings and analysis supporting the decision.

          6)Deletes the limitation that a demand to bargain under the  
            mandatory mediation process for labor organizations certified  
            prior to January 1, 2013, can only occur if the parties have  
            not previously had a binding contract between them.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown.  This bill is keyed non-fiscal by the  
          Legislative Counsel. 

           COMMENTS  :  This bill, sponsored by the United Farm Workers  
          (UFW), proposes to make a series of changes to the mandatory  
          mediation process that was added to the ALRA in 2002.  The  
          mandatory mediation process was enacted by two bills, SB 1156  
          (Burton), Chapter 1145, Statutes of 2002, and AB 2596 (Wesson),  
          Chapter 1146, Statutes of 2002.  While the provisions of the  
          mediation process have undergone some changes, the mediation  
          process provided under existing law remains largely unchanged.  

          This bill seeks to address two principal criticisms of the  
          existing mediation process:  the limited number of negotiations  
          that qualify for the process and the length of time for the  
          mediation to become binding.  On the first criticism, proponents  
          argue that, after a labor election result is certified and a  
          labor representative is elected, the relations between an  
          agricultural employer and a labor organization remain tense.   
          Having a mandatory and binding mediation process allows for a  
          neutral third party to oversee the negotiations and ensures that  
          a collective bargaining agreement is completed.  This bill  
          addresses this issue by removing the existing limitations on who  
          can avail themselves of the mandatory mediation process.

          The second criticism that this bill seeks to address is the  
          length of time it takes for a mediation decision to become  
          binding.  While the process between the mediator and the ALRB is  
          straightforward, a court can stay the mediation indefinitely  
          without explaining the reasoning or without an evidentiary  
          process that establishes that a party would suffer irreparable  
          harm.  Additionally, parties are not required to follow the  
          terms of the mediation while the appeal is pending.  This bill  
          addresses this issue by requiring that the court may only stay a  
          mediator's decision with clear and convincing evidence, and that  
          the court must provide written findings explaining their reasons  


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          for staying the mediator's decision.  Additionally, this bill  
          requires the parties to follow the mediation decision while the  
          appeal is pending.

          The UFW states the following in support of this measure:

               [This bill] honors the results of secret ballot  
               elections by allowing for binding mediation to resolve  
               collective bargaining disputes for the duration of the  
               union's certification following a secret ballot  

               Adopted into law 2002, the original binding mediation  
               law for first contracts has worked. Decades-long legal  
               maneuvering and delay has been replaced by collective  
               bargaining agreements covering thousands of California  
               farm workers.  Those contracts have raised wages,  
               halted arbitrary and inhumane treatment, and stopped  
               sexual harassment.
               However, as first contracts expire some employers are  
               refusing to negotiate new ones.  D'Arrigo Farms  
               delayed signing a first contract for 32 years  
               following a secret ballot election won by farm  
               workers.  The company has refused to enter into a new  
               contract since 2010?

               ?[This bill] also addresses an enforcement loophole in  
               the 2002 law that has been identified by the ALRB.  In  
               some specific cases, the ALRB is unable to enforce a  
               mediator's decision or to implement new wages.  This  
               past summer, a mediator imposed a first contract at  
               Ace Tomato - a farm where farm workers first voted for  
               the union in 1989.  This first contract gave workers  
               wage increases, workplace protections, and the ability  
               to resolve disputes through grievance and arbitration  
               procedures.  Yet, even after two decades of legal  
               maneuvers by Ace, when workers requested that the ALRB  
               enforce the contract that Ace was refusing to  
               implement, the ALRB concluded that it does not have  
               the power to enforce the contract. As the ALRB wrote:

                    '?there is no legal mechanism through which the  
                    Board can seek to enforce its decision at this  


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                    time.  A statutory amendment is needed to afford  
                    that authority to the Board where, as here, it is  

          Opponents contend that, by expanding the application of the  
          mediation process to include all future collective bargaining  
          agreement negotiations, this bill replaces negotiations between  
          labor and management in agriculture by continuously repeating  
          third-party intervention in setting the terms and conditions of  
          employment.  They contend that this negates any possibility of  
          fostering labor and management cooperation in future  
          negotiations by providing incentive for one party to simply hold  
          on its positions until mediation can be commenced in the  
          relatively short time periods provided for.

          In addition, opponents claim that this bill would continuously  
          take away the important right of agricultural employees to have  
          the opportunity to review and vote on whether to ratify  
          negotiated collective bargaining agreements.  They note that  
          this past year has included several situations in which a  
          certification of a labor organization had been left dormant by  
          the labor organization for years or even decades, only to be  
          utilized to apply the mediation provisions to obtain collective  
          bargaining agreements without allowing employees any opportunity  
          to decide whether they wished to be represented by the labor  
          organization that had forgotten them for decades, or to ratify  
          any collective bargaining agreement that might be ultimately  
          imposed upon them.  Opponents conclude that this bill prevents  
          employees from ever having an opportunity to decide their own  
          fate due to the limitations on when an election can be conducted  
          under the ALRA.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Ben Ebbink / L. & E. / (916) 319-2091 

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