The Trust Act

The Governor Brown Vetoes--a Loss for Justice

Jerry Brown possesses one of the most interesting and certainly the most unusual political histories in the State of California. From a member of the Los Angeles Community College District, to California Secretary of State, to Governor, to Mayor of Oakland, to Attorney General and back again to Governor. Agree with him or not, his career has been characterized by principles of equality and justice. Personally, I have long been one of his supporters.

I admired then, and still do today, his principled stand against the death penalty. His veto of legislation to reinstitute capital punishment, along with his commitment to the environment and to workers’ rights were the kind of risks one expects from a leader; from a man of vision; from a governor committed to equality under the law and justice for all. This was the man who championed the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, even calling a special session of the legislature to pass the act which he signed into law on May 29, 1975. Fast forward to September, 2012.

The mainstream media has failed to cover one of the most spectacular stories in the state. Governor Jerry Brown is the victim of a Sci-Fi movie. “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” is no longer just an escape of fiction. That is the only explanation I can concoct for the disappearance of the principled politician who used to inhabit Brown’s corporeal form. After all, the values instilled in him through his Jesuit education proved of inestimable value in his political career--until now.

The Humane Treatment for Farm Workers Act--vetoed. This act would have made it a misdemeanor crime, punishable by jail time and fines, to not provide appropriate water or shade to workers laboring under high conditions. To use a popular expression, that should be “no-brainer.”

The Farm Worker Safety Act--vetoed. This would enabled workers to sue employers who repeatedly violate the law. Such lawsuits are the only guaranteed method of enforcing the state’s heat regulations.

The Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights--vetoed. This act would have included domestic workers in basic labor protections. Such things as overtime pay, meal and rest breaks. And who are these domestic workers? Childcare providers, house cleaners, caregivers for California’s families.

The Trust Act--vetoed. In a society that is struggling to maintain faithfulness to its immigrant roots and seeking ways to keep families, the governor’s veto will enable law enforcement officers to continue their assault on immigrants. More than 80,000 persons have been deported for minor, non-violent offenses. There is a reason that boundary lines separate California from Arizona. We don’t want the likes of governor Brewer and Sheriff Arapaio.

These vetoes are outrageous. What happened to the Jerry Brown who stood for justice and equality? The United Farm Workers put it in perspective: “It’s unacceptable that immigrants and Latinos in California will continue to live in fear of attacks like Arizona’s SB 1070. It’s appalling that 200,000 domestic workers will continue work without rest or meal breaks. It’s outrageous when abuse of a farm animal is taken more seriously than abuse of a farm worker.”

There is a new outcry in the State of California: “Shame on you, Governor Brown.” If it were only a matter of shame, that would be his problem. It is much deeper than that, however. This is a scandal for the entire State of California. It reduces us to the level of Arizona. I wonder if Brown’s next action will be to wag his finger in disrespect at the President of the United States!