The legislation would allow workers to organize when a majority signs petition cards and submits them to a state board. Currently a secret ballot is the only route to unionization. The bill sparked a contentious Senate floor debate. Republican Senator Joel Anderson:
"Can the legislature be so arrogant that on Cesar Chavez Day we are taking the rights of secret ballot away from farm workers and undermine the efforts of Chavez. Yes, we can."
Democratic Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg wrote the bill. He says the secret ballot wouldn't disappear; the new bill creates an alternative:
"It's not about the so-called secret ballot. Opponents are afraid that more farm workers will end up with collective bargaining and the benefits that go with it."