The Agricultural Labor Relations Act was signed into law June 5, 1975, after a decade of tumult in the fields at a time when California had farm sales of $7.3 billion ($32 billion today) and spent $1.2 billion on farm labor or 16 percent of sales. Today, farm sales are $43 billion and farm labor costs $9.3 billion or 22 percent of sales, reflecting the increased importance of labor-intensive commodities. In 1975, there were five or six representation elections a day on farms, compared to one in all of 2013. Major ALRB activities have changed from elections to mandatory mediation and conciliation on farms where unions were certified to represent workers in some cases decades ago.
Farm labor and farm labor law have changed over the past four decades. This conference examines changes in the farm labor market and changes in farm labor relations over the past 40 years.