The newly formed coalition, Agriculture for a Democratic Workplace (ADW), is calling on Congress to join the more than 40-member agricultural group in opposing the Employee Free Choice Act (|EFCA).

“We are opposed to the Employee Free Choice Act because it would strip American workers, including most workers in the agricultural industry, of their choice of whether or not to join a union, and their right to vote by secret ballot election would be effectively annulled,” the coalition said in an open letter to Congress earlier this month. Not only would this legislation deny a worker’s right to a private ballot election, but it further harms workers and businesses by subjecting employers and employees to contract terms for two years through an unreasoned mandatory binding arbitration after 120 days; and drastically increases fines for businesses—not for unions—of $20,000 for each violation plus triple back pay awards for unfair labor penalties.

“This bill is bad policy. It is bad for employers and employees,” said Western Growers President and CEO and ADW Co-Chair Tom Nassif.

President Barack Obama has publicly supported the EFCA, but the ADW is hopeful Mr. Obama will recognize that this legislation would hurt the development of job growth in the U.S.

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Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League and co-chair of the ADW, added, “With the binding arbitration tenant of the EFCA and the new costs that could be levied on employers, no wonder millions of employers and workers are rallying to fight it. This bill provides no means to stimulate our economy, hinders U.S. efforts to grow business, and will undoubtedly usher in more job losses.”

American agriculture stands united in opposition to the EFCA and hopes the country’s elected officials will stand with them, said the group.

“Congress should oppose legislation that takes rights away from American workers — such as the right to cast a private vote on whether to certify a union or the right to vote on a union contract at all,” said California Farm Bureau Federation President and ADW Co-Chair Doug Mosebar. “If our senators and members of Congress truly want to support America’s work force, they will stand with farmers and agricultural business people and oppose the EFCA.”

Last month, ADW, this new coalition of national, regional and local agricultural associations covering virtually every sector of the industry, launched a campaign to oppose the EFCA. ADW unveiled its web site (www.coalitionforagriculture.org) with information and tools for coalition members to fight the battle against the introduction and passage of the EFCA.