Newsom vetoes bill to make it easier for farmworkers to join a union

The measure was pushed by the United Farm Workers to counteract a recent court ruling.|

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday vetoed legislation that would make it easier for farmworkers to vote in union elections to the dismay of the United Farm Workers union, which pushed the measure to counteract a recent court ruling.

The legislation, AB 616, sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Santa Cruz, would have allowed agricultural workers to vote to form a union by mail or delivering directly to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. The push came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that made it harder for labor groups to organized farmworkers.

“This bill contains various inconsistencies and procedural issues related to the collection and review of ballot cards,” Newsom wrote in a statement after his veto.

The veto was hailed by farm groups with California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson saying the bill threatened “the rights of agricultural employees to be free of undue fear and intimidation.” The UFW blasted the veto and said on its Twitter account that its members would protest outside the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, the restaurant where Newsom was photographed with dining with a group of lobbyists during the height of the pandemic.

New executive joins Vintage Wine Estates

Russell Joy has been appointed chief operating officer at Vintage Wine Estates in Santa Rosa, taking over on Nov. 1 from Jeff Nicholson after the latter’s retirement.

Joy was most recently general manager at Napa Wine Co. and was most well known locally as vice president of California operations for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates which had acquired Patz & Hall Wine Co. in Sonoma, where Joy held the position of president and general manager during his 11 years there. He also served as president at Viansa Winery and began his career as a certified public accountant with Touche Ross & Co, now known as Deloitte.

“Russ has a strong track record of execution and proven leadership skills that I expect to prove valuable as we continue to execute our strategy for growth. He brings extensive operating and finance experience to the team that should prove beneficial as well for our transition into the public reporting realm,” said Pat Roney, CEO of Vintage Wine Estates, which became publicly traded earlier this year.

Sonoma-Marin Fair names competition winners

The Sonoma-Marin Fair has announced the winners of its 2021 North of the Gate Wine Competition that was held last month.

Carol Shelton was named winemaker of the fair and her 2019 coquille rouge was named the Best of Show for red wines. Navarro Vineyards won Best of Show for white wines with its 2020 muscat.

Pedroncelli Winery won Best of Show in rose division for its 2020 zinfandel and Pennyroyal Farm’s 2017 blanc de noir won Best of Show sparkling. Best of Show Dessert wine was won by Navarro Vineyards and its 2019 gewurztraminer.

Compiled by Bill Swindell. Submit items to

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

UPDATED: Please read and follow our commenting policy:

  • This is a family newspaper, please use a kind and respectful tone.
  • No profanity, hate speech or personal attacks. No off-topic remarks.
  • No disinformation about current events.
  • We will remove any comments — or commenters — that do not follow this commenting policy.
Send a letter to the editor

Our Network

The Press Democrat
Sonoma Index-Tribune
Petaluma Argus Courier
North Bay Business Journal
Sonoma Magazine
Bite Club Eats
La Prensa Sonoma
Sonoma County Gazette