California farm labor law in limbo

Back in the 1970s, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act was passed in California. It created a way for the United Farm Workers' union to work out contracts with growers. However, implementation of the law was slow and farmers and growers failed to develop contracts because of their different styles and priorities.

Two years ago, California Governor Jerry Brown signed an overhaul of the state's farm labor laws. The new legislation was designed to help the Agricultural Labor Relations Board crack down on employer misconduct.

Farm workers face some unique difficulties in the workplace. The high risk of accidents, the dependence on environmental factors and a unique regulation system all shape the landscape of farm labor law. And a long-time reliance on migrant workers unfortunately means a long history of labor abuses against employees.

That legislation also allowed for speedier mediation when union elections fail to result in a contract. The author of that bill hopes to expand that provision by requiring mediation when a contract expires and is not replaced immediately by a successor contract. This has led to some disputes, which we'll talk more about next week.

If you are involved in an employment dispute, whether over a wage and hour issue, discrimination, benefits of wrongful termination, it is important to enlist help. Consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney who can get to know your case and your unique working situation. He or she can work with you to determine the best course of action and protect your future - and your career.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "California farm labor law still a hot issue," Dan Walters, Jan. 8, 2013

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