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Bill in California would help farmworkers form unions

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Posted: Wednesday, August 25, 2010 4:19 pm

The temperature was nearly 100 degrees as 17-year-old Maria Vasquez Jimenez, of Lodi, pruned grapes for nine hours at a vineyard near Stockton in California's Central Valley. By the end of that day in 2008, the pregnant teen was dead from heat stroke, and her death set off renewed calls among union advocates for greater protections for farmworkers. But in the two years since, efforts to unionize workers have largely been unsuccessful.

Unions claim that's because employers have illegally interfered with union elections, and their Democratic supporters pushed a bill through the California Legislature last week that will automatically declare a union victory if employer misconduct is shown. The bill is awaiting action by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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