United Farm Workers fight dwindling membership - East Valley Tribune: Home

United Farm Workers fight dwindling membership

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Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 6:46 pm | Updated: 3:15 am, Wed Apr 20, 2011.

(AP) — The United Farm Workers of America is pushing a California bill that union leaders say is needed to counter employer intimidation.

The union drew national attention when it inspired a grape boycott in the 1960s and then forced vineyard owners to sign hundreds of contracts providing better pay and working conditions. But its membership has dwindled since.

Union organizers say that's partly because workers are afraid to unionize, even in secret ballot elections. That's why, in a historic shift, they're now backing a bill that would move organizing efforts off farms. The so-called check-card system would let workers sign cards and turn them into the state. If a majority signs the cards, a union would be formed.

Farmers say the change isn't needed because secret ballots provide enough protection.

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