Assemblyman Luis Alejo, a long-time supporter of the United Farm Workers Union, is taking heat from the union and its members for refusing to vote for a bill that would make it easier for the UFW to obtain contracts with growers.
Alejo, a Watsonville Democrat, startled observers at an Assembly Labor and Employment Committee last Wednesday when he refused to vote for the union-backed measure, Senate Bill 25, which is being carried by Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. Without his vote, the bill failed.
The day after the hearing, the Salinas Californian newspaper reported, a group of UFW members and their supporters demonstrated outside Alejo's Salinas office - and were countered by another group of Alejo supporters.
Alejo said he was to meet with UFW officials on Tuesday to discuss his concerns with the bill, but the union cancelled the meeting.
The measure, which has been approved by the Senate, would make to easier to refer contract disputes to a mediator, but farmers say it would undercut collective bargaining. The UFW and Steinberg say SB 25 would close a loophole in the state's mediation law.