It’s Past Time to Manage California Forests

Reducing Catastrophic Devastation with Preventive Forest Management

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

In light of the deadly Paradise fire in northern California, along with the other devastating fires in the state over the last 10 years, California Ag Today spoke with Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke about the state’s forests.

Perdue believes that significant losses could have been averted.

“The issue really right now is what are we going to do about it? These are called disasters. Because of the loss of life, wildland fires have been greater than hurricanes this year,” Perdue said. “We’ve had two significant hurricanes, but the death toll is surpassing that. And the interesting thing in this disaster: these are disasters that we can do some things about, and we need to be about doing things … that we can do, but we need the authority to do that.”

Zinke said that officials need to act on good forest management.

“We talked about active forest management for a long time, but you know, talking’s over,” Zinke said. “It’s now time to act.”

Zinke noted common sense forest principles that need to be addressed at once.

“One is to remove the dead and dying trees; to thin and do prescribed burns late in the season rather than midseason,” Zinke explained. “This is fixable. The president’s right, and this is not just one administration—this goes back years of failure to manage our public lands, and it is absolutely a situation that can be mitigated, but we need to act.

Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior

“It is unsustainable and unacceptable that we have the devastation, the loss of life, but we need to prioritize getting back to an active management system. There are other countries that prevent the devastation,” Zinke said. “I spent a lot of time in Germany, which does not have the scale of fire that we experience. There are models of active forest management that are effective, and this is the time to act.”

But Zinke explained that good forest management in California has a big problem: radical environmentalists.

“Take a look at who’s suing. Every time there is a thinning project, who’s suing. Everyone should recognize that the density of dead and dying trees is higher. The density of trees are higher and there are active forest management principles that we should use to mitigate these devastating forest fires,” Zinke said. “However, when there is lawsuit after lawsuit by, yes, the radical environmental groups that would rather burn down the entire forest than cut a single tree or thin the forest. And it’s easy to find who is suing and who has promulgated these destructive policies.”

Zinke said that he does not want to point fingers just at the environmentalists, though.

“There’s a lot of variables: the season’s getting longer, the temperatures are getting hotter. We’ve had historic drought conditions in California, which has lead to dead and dying trees from beetle kill. There is a high density of trees, with enormous underbrush and those things can be mitigated, but we have to get to work,” he explained.

Perdue challenges the radical environmentalists’ desire for an untouched, pristine forest.

“I think that’s been the theory from well-meaning environmentalist over the years: is that a forest that you did nothing to was pristine,” Perdue said. “We know that’s not to be the case. It gets undergrowth. It gets where you don’t have good recreational activity, poor hiking, poor access or wildlife growth and access, water quality, all those kind of things. It’s not pristine, and that’s the issue that we’re trying to bring up. A well managed, well-groomed forest is always better for all of those kinds of issues.”

Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

A well-managed forest provides economy and jobs for rural communities as needed, but wildlife, the recreational aspect, the hiking, the water quality, all those also improve with well-managed forests.

“I think some environmentalists are coming around to that to that way of thinking, I think even some environmentalists realize they’ve overreached and [are] keeping management out of these forests, but we need more to come along, and we need the lawsuits to stop,” Perdue said.

Zinke said public land is for the benefit and the enjoyment of all people and not special interest groups.

“And what we’re seeing in the last decade [is] that special interest groups are really exercising their very tight agenda. The result has been a buildup of fuels coupled with droughts, and with increased density of dead and dying trees, as well as beetle kill. And so the condition of our forest as we look at them today, are not healthy—and they are a threat to populations like, like Paradise, and we can do better,” Zinke explained.

“I think the solution is looking at models that are effective, using best science, best practices, and certainly having more authority or we don’t have to go through an entire Environmental Impact Report (EIS) to cut a single tree,” Zinke said.

And that’s exactly what Zinke had to do when he was a congressman in Montana.

“[As] a former congressman, I sponsored the bill to allow a power company to remove vegetation in a prescribed easement. And it took an act of Congress to move the bill through. But is still gave 60 days for a notification before the power company could remove what was called an imminent danger tree. This is a tree that’s going to fall on the power lines, no doubt … it has a potential of starting a forest fire, but it still took 60 days of notification for a power company to have the authority to remove a single tree in a prescribed easement, he said.

Zinke noted that there are a number of legislative fixes, and some of them can be in the Farm Bill.

“We need more authority to have category exclusions, to do the right thing and take a common sense approach so we don’t have to go through year after year of these 100,000-acre-plus fires that are enormously destructive,” Zinke said.

The massive fires put our firefighters and our communities at risk.

“I do think that America is waking up, and sees that we can manage these forest using best practices, and best science,” Zinke said.

“We should be able to manage our forests. And when nature alone takes this course without management .. it has consequences, and those consequences, unfortunately, have led to entire communities being destroyed and a tremendous amount of loss of life. We can do better and we should,” Zinke explained.

2021-05-12T11:05:07-07:00November 28th, 2018|

EPA Blasts State’s Water Grab

EPA’s Acting Secretary Andrew Wheeler Visits The Valley With Congressman Denham

News Release Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh

Following his recent visit to the Valley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) in Sacramento, expressing concern over several aspects of the proposed Bay-Delta plan. A copy of the letter is available here.

In the letter, Wheeler questions the effectiveness of drastically increasing flows to improve native fish species when studies show several additional factors contribute to their dwindling populations—including predation from non-native species, which the Bay-Delta plan does not address.

“I’m pulling every available resource to stop the state’s dangerous water grab,” said U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock). “Both the Department of Interior and EPA have now directly weighed in against Sacramento’s plan to steal our water.”

Oakdale Irrigation District General Manager Steve Knell said: “Finally, EPA Administrator Wheeler’s letter has put common sense back on the table in addressing the State’s draconian Water Plan. Thank you Congressman Denham for your efforts in bringing Mr. Wheeler to our area to hear our concerns.”

“This State Water Plan will devastate water storage in our dams, drive river temperatures to lethal levels and destroy the very fish species we at the local level are trying to protect. Our rivers deserve better. We have the science to show this, we have provided it to the State, and they have ignored it. We continued to advocate that sending more water down the river and not addressing other stressors is not an answer, and the State has ignored that too.”

South San Joaquin Irrigation District General Manager Peter Rietkerk said: “On behalf of the South San Joaquin Irrigation District, I would like to thank you and your staff for bringing Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler to our region on October 11, 2018. The meeting was a success, and our message was clearly heard, evidenced by today’s letter from the EPA to the State Water Board. We’ve continued to lament the devastating impacts of State’s plan to local drinking and irrigation water supplies, and to protected fish species within our rivers, and it is great to know that the EPA has listened and will be looking for balance and accountability from the State Water Board if they choose to approve this outrageous plan.”

At Denham’s request, several key administration officials have visited the Central Valley and have been actively engaged in policies to fight Sacramento’s water grab and increase water storage for our farmers and residents. This is the latest result of many such actions.

On July 27, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman submitted a strongly worded comment expressing serious legal concerns with the latest Bay-Delta amendment. The comment followed a visit by U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Ryan Zinke to our impacted reservoirs at request of Denham on July 20. Additionally, Zinke sent an internal memo to DOI agencies on August 17 requesting all Central Valley Project authorities be provided to him for disposal to combat the state’s plan.

Following Denham’s September 28 letter requesting executive action, the President signed a memorandum to bring more storage to the Valley and address hydroelectric relicensing at Don Pedro, requiring agencies to consider local plans like the Tuolumne River Management Plan developed by Modesto and Turlock Irrigation Districts. Denham previously released an animated video on NMFS Sacramento’s dangerous water grab.

As a follow-up to the presidential memorandum, Denham recently hosted a call with senior administration officials from the Bureau of Reclamation to discuss the details of the memorandum, next steps in the process, and allow irrigation districts and farm bureaus an opportunity to ask questions.

The president’s order supplements legislation authored by Denham to support innovative financing opportunities for water projects throughout the western United States. Denham’s New WATER Act (H.R. 434) passed and was signed into law as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA). Eligible projects include new reservoirs, below ground storage projects, recycling and desalination projects. This legislation supports large projects like enlargement of Shasta Dam, construction of Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Dam, and expanding Los Vaqueros Reservoir.

2021-05-12T11:05:08-07:00November 5th, 2018|

President Signs Rep. Jeff Denham’s Water Storage Legislation

President signs Denham Water Storage Legislation

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh

 President Donald Trump signed into law recently legislation written by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) to authorize financing of new water storage projects as part of America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (WRDA).

 “With the signing of this bill into law, we are bringing water home to the Valley,” Denham said. “I’ve been fighting since day one in Washington to build more water storage for our farmers and neighbors. Today, we celebrate future generations having access to the water they need and deserve.”

 Denham’s New WATER Act provides financing for water projects throughout the western United States, including new reservoirs, below ground storage projects, recycling, and desalination projects. For Sites Reservoir alone, this policy will save hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs and significantly lower prices for water users.

Rep. Jeff Denham

In California and across the west, this means billions of dollars saved as we build the necessary infrastructure to capture the plentiful run-off from the Sierras, which can be used to irrigate the Valley and save for the dry years. During the rains of 2017, we saw how our inadequate storage quickly filled reservoirs, wasting water, and led to flooding and levee breaches—issues Denham secured language for in the WRDA bill.

Additionally, the bill enhances long-delayed and badly needed local flood protection for more than 50,000 Valley residents. Rep. Denham hosted the highest ranking civilian responsible for water infrastructure in the Army Corps of Engineers, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Rickey “R.D.” James, in Manteca recently to ensure quick completion of ongoing construction and prioritization of the projects in the bill.

The Army Corps is responsible for managing these projects, and R.D. James saw firsthand how critical water infrastructure is in Stanislaus and San Joaquin County, including the levees near Manteca that were breached in 2017. These levees are currently being restored with federal funding.

To build upon these infrastructure improvements, additional Denham language in the WRDA bill makes additional levee authorizations in San Joaquin County eligible for federal resources to protect our communities. Denham also included language to expedite the feasibility study of the Mossdale Tract, or Reclamation District 17, which includes the French Camp veterans treatment facility.

2018-10-30T16:36:46-07:00October 30th, 2018|

Halting the Sacramento Water Grab

Rep. Denham calls on Congress to halt Sacramento Water Grab by enacting Denham Amendment

News Release Edited By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 Recently, U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), along with thirteen of his California colleagues, sent a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to make sure Rep. Denham’s House-passed amendment to stop Sacramento’s water grab is included in the next spending bill that is signed into law.

“My amendment halts the disastrous Bay-Delta Plan that would see 40 percent of our water flushed out into the ocean,” Rep. Denham said. “Congress must act to protect the Valley.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, photo courtesy of his Facebook page

 Rep. Denham’s amendment to stop the state’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives in July as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally-owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower.

Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years.

Sacramento’s planned water grab would do irreparable damage to Central Valley communities, directly interfering with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water and the Central Valley Project’s ability to deliver water.

The plan would subvert the will of Congress and jeopardize a significant portion of the nation’s agricultural productivity. Following a visit to New Melones at the request of Rep. Denham, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board highlighting serious concerns with the plan and directed his agencies to propose a new plan to maximize water storage and resolve issues with the state, among other directives. 

Rep. Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

2018-09-10T16:47:28-07:00September 10th, 2018|

State Water Resources Control Board Grab for Salmon Will Impact Federal Water

Feds and State Usually Do Not Work Well Together

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today continues our report on the recent water rally in Sacramento at the capital building. Farmers and stakeholders attended to protest the California State Water Resources Control Board Proposed Water Grab 40 percent of the water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers redirected to increase flows for salmon.

U.S. representative for the 16th district Jim Costa explained how federal and state water projects would be drastically impeded.

There are distinctions between state and federal laws as relates to water. However, there are federal water projects. In this case, New Melones  Dam, a Federal Central Valley Water Project site, will be severely impacted, which could be a problem for the Water Board’s plan,” Costa said.  “With all of the challenges in water, none in the last 20 years have worked together between the Central Valley Water Project and the State Water Project.”

 Adam Gray, 21st district assemblymen representing Merced and Stanislaus counties, explained the fight with the water resources board over the years.

“For the six years I’ve been in the assembly, we have been fighting this fight with the state water board, and despite repeated concerns that we have raised, testimony that I provided and members of my community have provided, the state continues to ignore the concerns and the farmers are not happy,” Gray said. “We are going to raise our voices as loud as they need to be and talk to whoever we need to talk to to get a fair deal on this.”

“The irrigation districts have science-based plans that involve habitat restoration, water, rebuilding a river, and dealing with non-native predators,” he said. It is not going to be easy, and it is going to take sacrifice to make a fair deal. All they want to do is take, take, take, and it is all water with no consideration for those other things.”

2018-09-03T16:47:21-07:00September 3rd, 2018|

Steve Malanca Voices Frustration Regarding Water Grab

More Water Storage is What is Needed

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

At the capitol building in Sacramento, more than one thousand farmers and other stakeholders attended a big rally to protest the California State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed water grab of 40 percent of the water from the Stanislaus, Tuolumne, and Merced rivers to increase flows for salmon. California Ag Today met with Steve Malanca, co-founder of My Job Depends on Ag, as he explained the concerns for water storage.

“Being in western Fresno County at Ground Zero, where the water take has been going on for 30 years, we have continually asked for more storage,” he said.

Steve Malanca

Steve Malanca

The lack of surface delivery water and the lack of storage in the state of California is not good for anyone.

“The fish need water. The farms need water. We need fresh drinking water, and the problem continues to get worse with the amount of water we lose every winter out to the ocean,” Malanca said. “If that water could be saved and properly stored … this would generate more cold water for the salmon to live and spawn in. We just want them to know that we need help, but we need more water.”

U.S. Representative for the 16th district Jim Costa also attended the water rally and explained the devastating impact of the water restrictions.

“If there are 40 percent unimpeded flows were allowed to go through, it would have a devastating impact on those counties,” Costa said.

Jim Costa

California has reallocated water in the past and has not had very good results.

“What we have really got to do is talk about other proposals that take into account habitat, non-native predator species, non-point discharge and a balance that makes sense,” Costa said.

2018-08-31T16:38:58-07:00August 31st, 2018|

Interior Dept: Water Grab at New Melones Devastating for Central Valley

Comments Come After Secretary of the Interior’s Visit

News Release from the Office of Rep. Jeff Denham

Following Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s visit to Don Pedro and New Melones Reservoirs at the request of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), the Department of Interior issued an official comment on Friday regarding the State Water Resources Control Board’s proposed water grab.

The Department of Interior’s comment notes that the proposed water grab “directly interfere[s] with the New Melones Project’s ability to store water” and “elevate[s] the Project’s fish and wildlife purposes over the Project’s irrigation and domestic purposes contrary to the prioritization scheme carefully established by Congress.” Interior’s comment also specifies that siphoning off at least 40 percent of Central Valley’s rivers during peak season would result in significant reductions in water storage at New Melones and result in diminished power generation as well as recreational opportunities. DOI recommends the Board reconsider and postpone the scheduled August 21-22 public meeting to allow for “additional due diligence and dialogue.”

Rep. Jeff Denham, photo courtesy of his Facebook page

“Sacramento’s radical water grab would cripple the Central Valley’s economy, farms and community.  Secretary Zinke saw that when he visited New Melones and Don Pedro reservoirs with me last week,” Denham said. “They cannot drain our reservoirs and ignore our concerns.  I will continue fighting to make sure Central Valley voices are heard.”

“Under Sacramento’s plan, the Valley will suffer skyrocketing water and electricity rates.” Denham explained. “After a decade and millions of our money spent on a study that they required, the board ignored the science based proposal that would save our fish while preserving our water rights.  We will not allow them to take our water and destroy our way of life”

Last week, Denham’s amendment to stop the state’s dangerous water grab passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of a Department of the Interior appropriations bill, and put a major spotlight on this issue. The amendment, currently awaiting a vote in the Senate, prohibits federal agencies from participating in the state’s plan to deplete the federally owned New Melones reservoir, which provides water for the Central Valley Project and generates hydropower. Sacramento’s plan would drain significantly more water from New Melones each year, potentially leaving it completely dry some years. This would put in jeopardy critical water supplies for Central Valley farmers and communities who rely on the water for their homes, businesses, farms, and electric power. The amendment takes this issue head-on to protect Valley water.

Denham will continue fighting to protect Central Valley water, support science-driven river management plans that revitalize our rivers without recklessly wasting water, and push major policies like the New WATER Act that will solve California’s water storage crisis and keep the Valley fertile and prosperous for generations to come.

To read the full comment from the Department of the Interior, click here. For more information about what Denham is doing to fight for water in the Valley, visit www.Denham.house.gov/water, where you can also sign up to receive periodic updates on his work in Washington to improve local water infrastructure, storage and delivery.

2018-07-31T21:47:56-07:00July 31st, 2018|

Bayer Brings Legislators to Farms for Right Reasons

Inaugural Farms Will Replace Pen with the Plow

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor
Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience

Rob Schrick, Bayer Crop Science

Bayer Crop Science is giving legislators the opportunity to trade in dress pants for denim, by providing farms just minutes away from their office. Rob Schrick, Bayer CropScience strategic business lead for North America, is working with growers to have an inaugural farm outside of Washington, D.C., and eventually Sacramento to show lawmakers real farming practices.

“A lot of these folks that are writing laws for us in ag have never been on a farm,” Schrick said. “These are the very people that work every day towards California laws and regulations on farms that they have never seen.”

This will give lawmakers a taste of the work farmers in our state do every day. Although the San Joaquin Valley is the heart of agriculture, the key is a convenience for the government, which is why they are looking to the Sacramento area for their next farm, explained Schrick.

“Let’s get them out there and showcase the growers using technology in an everyday environment,” Schrick said.

2018-07-25T16:00:50-07:00July 25th, 2018|

California Fresh Fruit Association: Kroger Must Not Adopt Net 90 Payment Plan

Kroger’s Net 90 Payment Intention Will Hurt California Farmers

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The California Fresh Fruit Association told California Ag Today recently that they do not want to see any relaxation or easing of Kroger Supermarket Chain in what they announced as a 90-day payment intention for all vendors.

Ian LeMay

“What our industry wants to see is Kroger to withdraw this proposal and to go back to the 30 day payment period,” said Ian LeMay, Director of Member Relations and Communications with the California Fresh Fruit Association in Fresno.

Kroger is the largest supermarket chain in the U.S,. spanning the East, South, and Midwest, and they have stated that they want a net 90 day payment plan on all vendors, including the farmers in California, which provides up to 70% of the fruits and vegetables and 100% of the nut crops that consumers enjoy throughout the year.

As to why Kroger is going this way? It’s most likely to help on their cash flow.

“That’s not necessarily the prerogative or needs to be the interest of our shippers. The shippers have a payroll to make and other bills to pay and they don’t need to carry that credit for Kroger,” LeMay said. “It’s just not good business and not to mention, we’re dealing with multiple commodities with many of our commodities, with a harvest that does not last many weeks. I mean, cherries here in California are six weeks long, so they’re supposed to carry that credit longer than their own season? It just, that doesn’t make sense.”

And making matters worse is that Kroger is even asking farmers to forfeit their rights under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, created by Congress to specifically protect the perishable fresh fruit industry. The act states that payments must be made in 30 days.

“Their answer to that … [is] that they’re partnering with Citibank and that … if you want an expedited payment, then you would have to basically pay upwards of .72 percent on the money you’re owed, so you’re actually going to have to pay money to get money back,” LeMay explained.

LeMay said he thinks when two people are doing business with each other, there’s an expectation that they will keep agreements between each other.

“This is not what California shippers agreed upon. Kroger wants to force this on then. We would like to see Kroger withdraw and hold true to PACA,” he said.

2018-07-02T01:46:36-07:00July 2nd, 2018|

Laurie Greene Wins Journalism Award

Greene Wins Fresno County Farm Bureau Award for Series on Farm Workers’ Rights

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

 

The Fresno County Farm Bureau (FCFB) recognized Laurie Greene, founding editor of CaliforniaAgToday.com,  with a First Place Journalism Award in the Farm Trade Print category on May 3. Her nine-part series published on our Google News-recognized CaliforniaAgToday.com website entitled, “Who Safeguards California Farm Workers’ Rights?” focused on recent, predominantly legal developments that illustrate the increasingly complex quagmire that masquerades as protecting farm employees’ rights in the state.

Laurie Greene wins Journalism Award

Ryan Jacobsen, FCFB CEO; Laurie Greene holding tractor award; and Donny Rollin, FCFB President.

According to the FCFB, “The annual awards recognize excellence in reporting on agricultural issues from journalists throughout the region. The criteria for the awards were: awareness of agriculture’s importance in the Valley; use of visuals to tell the story, where applicable; thorough and objective coverage of the issues, given time and space limitations; and portraying the ‘human side’ of the industry, making the issues relevant to consumers and/or producers.”

Laurie’s careful coverage of a complicated story was unrelenting in its meticulous research and thorough in cultivating numerous sources to tell the complete legal story of Gerawan’s farm employees. Laurie has been cited as a journalist with a sharp legal mind and is a strong asset to the company.

“When I moved to the Central Valley,” Greene said, “I was shocked to discover that Cesar Chavez’s legacy was tarnished. His UFW had evolved to mandate that farm employees submit to mediated union representation and payment of dues—all this by a union elected a quarter century earlier that subsequently abandoned the workers for two decades.

Gerawan Employees

Gerawan Farm Workers Protest against UFW at California Supreme Court.

Greene explained, “Current farm employees have had to fight to have their voices heard, to gain access to pertinent court hearings, to work unimpeded for the employer of their choosing, to face employment termination if they refuse to pay union dues, to exercise their right to vote to decertify the union in a sanctioned election and to have their votes publicly counted. I felt compelled to relay the facts in this important story.”

FCFB 2018 Journalism Award Winners Alex Backus, CBS47; Laurie Greene, CaliforniaAgToday.com; and Dominic McAndrew, 580AM KMJ. (Absent was Maria G. Ortiz-Briones, Vida en el Vale)

 

Greene’s work in the series was shared across the California Ag Today’s social media platforms and broadcasted across the California Ag Today Radio Network of 22 radio stations. She is also the owner of Cultivated Words, which provides professional editing services and college application essay coaching.

 


Other award winners were:

Audio:  Dominic McAndrew, News Talk 580AM, KMJ, “Signing the application for state funding of Temperance Flat Dam,” August 14, 2017.

Video:  Alex Backus, CBS47, “Fear in the Fields,” May 19, 2017.

General Print:  Maria G. Ortiz-Briones, Vida en el Vale, “Farmers, immigration rights advocates push back after ICE checks in the Central Valley,” February 12, 2018.

 


Who Safeguards California Farm Workers’ Rights?  (abridged)

Greene focused on the ongoing pressure the United Farm Workers (UFW) and the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board (ALRB) has placed on Gerawan farm workers in an attempt to force them to accept mandatory fee-based union representation by the UFW. Gerawan employees voted in favor of UFW representation in 1990, an election the ALRB certified in 1992. UFW never reached a contract to represent Gerawan employees in wage negotiations with their employer and never collected union dues. The UFW effectively abandoned the farm workers for 20 years.

The California Legislature amended the Agricultural Labor Relations Act in 2012 to impose a mandatory mediation and conciliation process for union contracts. The UFW offered Gerawan employees a new contract proposal via this forced legal process.

On Oct. 25, 2013, Gerawan employee Silvia Lopez filed a petition to decertify the UFW as the bargaining representative for the company’s workers. Gerawan voted in an historic, ALRB-sanctioned election on November 4 or 5, 2013; however, the ALRB impounded the ballots, reportedly without having counted them.

Silvia Lopez, Gerawan farm worker spokesperson

The twists and turns of who actually safeguards California farm employees’ rights have been strikingly dramatic, undemocratic, political, and arguably unconstitutional. And yet, the conflict remains legally unresolved.

Click here to read the series.

Click here to search for California Ag Today’s multimedia coverage since 2013 of this ongoing battle.  Search suggestions:  Gerawan Farming, Silvia Lopez, UFW, and ALRB.

2019-12-25T16:01:33-08:00May 7th, 2018|
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