The California Farm Bureau Federation plans to host a rally outside of the California state Capitol on 11 a.m. Thursday in opposition of Assembly Bill 616, a measure that will change the current process for farmworker union elections.

The bill, sponsored by United Farm Workers, already passed through the California legislature and is now at the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom. Proponents say that it simply allows farmworkers to use mail-in ballots in union elections, but it is being opposed by several trade associations — which includes CFBF as well as the Western Growers Association, the California Fresh Fruit Association, the Agricultural Council of California and the African American Farmers of California — who claim on a campaign website that it “effectively eliminates farm workers' right to vote and the secret ballot in union elections.”

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According to a release, the CFBF believes that secret-ballot elections overseen by the Agriculture Labor Relations Board would better protect farmworkers from intimidation and coercion.

“The Senate eliminated the farm employees’ right to choose, for themselves, whether they want to have a portion of their paycheck deducted and sent to a union,” CFBF president Jamie Johansson said in a release. “AB 616, by the Agriculture Labor Relations Board’s own analysis, will result in fewer elections because AB 616 does not require them to occur.”  Johansson will speak at the rally.

Participants in the rally also plan to address water issues by calling on Newsom and the legislature to start working on water storage and conveyance projects created in 2014 by Proposition 1.

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