Brown Bails on Farmworker Bill

It's hard to know what goes on in Democratic Governor Jerry Brown's head. Historically, that's always been the case and it's even more so today.

Brown's veto of SB 104, the farm worker bargaining rights bill, is the latest case in point.

Brown has long-standing ties with the farm workers. In his first go-around as governor in 1975, he signed the legislation authorizing farm workers to unionize by secret ballot.

It was a seminal moment for organized labor, minorities, and the poor--all core constituent groups of the Democratic party.

Given the alliance, Democrats thought the bill would go through.

Sure, Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it every time the bill reached his desk, but this is Jerry Brown, the man who marched with farm workers. Of course Brown would sign.


On Tuesday, Brown did an about-face. He wrote in his veto message that he wasn't convinced the new bill is needed.

Whoa, let's get this straight. Brown turns his back on organized labor and sides with the California Chamber of Commerce and the Western Growers Association? What gives?

It may be about the politics of give-and-take. Brown will be governor for four years, maybe eight.

Time after time in his brief tenure in his second go-around as governor, he's attempted to craft a substantive budget deal with Republicans, knowing that major change can not go forward without their participation.

Time after time, Republicans have rejected the governor's invitation, contending that he has not given them enough for their support.

Perhaps the veto is not a new course for Brown as much as it's a down- payment for Republican support in future negotiations. If that's so, the veto may be disappointing for the moment, but open new opportunities down the road.

Sprinters run different races than marathon runners. The first go all out in a rush, the second use their energy wisely over the long haul.

Perhaps we're learning something about Brown after all. Four years is a long time.

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