While I don't agree with many of Gov Brown's policies, I have to applaud him for showing character lacking in Democrats at the federal level.

Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2011


California's Democratic Governor Jerry Brown has always been one to surprise. His latest is this week's veto of card-check legislation, which would have allowed agricultural workers to unionize if a simple majority sign an authorization card.

As we wrote last month ("Forgetting Cesar Chavez," May 14), the bill would have denied employers the ability to demand a secret ballot election if labor organizers wanted to unionize through card check. This would have made it easier for organizers to intimidate workers into joining a union since workers' selections would no longer be concealed.

The United Farm Workers union has been losing members for years as workers have chosen to decertify the union. For many workers the cost of their dues exceeds the benefits they gain through collective bargaining. Labor leaders hoped card check would shore up their dwindling rolls and give them more money to spend on elections. Mr. Brown's predecessor, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, vetoed earlier versions of the legislation, but union leaders figured they had an ally in the Democrat. It seems they misread history.

In 1975, during his first stint as Governor, Mr. Brown signed a law guaranteeing workers' right to a secret ballot. Labor leader Cesar Chavez fought hard for this right in the 1960s and '70s, and in his veto message Mr. Brown said card check would have altered "in a significant way the guiding assumptions" of state agricultural labor law.

It also could have killed thousands of jobs in the state's San Joaquin Valley, where unemployment exceeds 15%. Rigid union work rules and high labor costs have already driven many growers to Mexico.

Labor leaders and Democrats tried to pressure Mr. Brown into signing the bill by camping outside his office and chanting "Sí se puede." Their antics may have given the Governor some sympathy for the farm workers whose only protection against such hounding is the secret ballot.