EEOC Releases Updated ‘Know Your Rights’ Poster

Western Agricultural Processors Association

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has released a new ‘Know Your Rights’ poster, which updates and replaces the previous “EEO is the Law” poster. Covered employers are required by federal law to prominently display the poster at their work sites. The EEOC’s web page for the poster provides information about where to post it. The poster also includes a QR code for applicants or employees to link directly to instructions for how to file a charge of workplace discrimination with the EEOC. A number of the laws that the EEOC enforces require covered employers to post a notice describing the Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination. The poster summarizes these laws and explains that employees or applicants can file a charge if they believe that they have experienced discrimination. The poster shares information about discrimination based on:

• Race, color, sex (including pregnancy and related conditions, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, religion,
• Age (40 and older),
• Equal pay,
• Disability,
• Genetic information (including family medical history or genetic tests or services), and includes
• Retaliation for filing a charge, reasonably opposing discrimination, or participating in a discrimination lawsuit, investigation, or proceeding.

The new “Know Your Rights” poster includes these changes:

• Uses straightforward language and formatting;
• Notes that harassment is a prohibited form of discrimination;
• Clarifies that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions, sexual orientation, or gender identity;
• Adds a QR code for fast digital access to the how to file a charge webpage;
• Provides information about equal pay discrimination for federal contractors.

The poster is available in English and Spanish and will be available in additional languages at a later date. The posters should be placed in a conspicuous location in the workplace where notices to applicants and employees are customarily posted. In addition to physically posting, covered employers are encouraged to post a notice digitally on their websites in a conspicuous location. In most cases, electronic posting supplements the physical posting requirement. In some situations (for example, for employers without a physical location or for employees who telework or work remotely and do not visit the employer’s workplace on a regular basis), it may be the only posting. Covered employers are subject to fines for noncompliance. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that notices of Federal laws prohibiting job discrimination be made available in a location that is accessible to applicants and employees with disabilities that limit mobility. To download or print a copy of the poster, click here: Know Your Rights Poster.

2022-10-20T10:30:29-07:00October 20th, 2022|

California Fresh Fruit Association Reacts to the Signing of AB 2183

The California Fresh Fruit Association (CFFA) is disappointed in Governor Newsom for
signing AB 2183 (Stone), card check legislation that will strip agricultural employees of their right to
an impartial secret ballot election and employers of their due process rights when they challenge
alleged violations.

President Ian LeMay stated, “On behalf of the Association, we express our disappointment with the
signing of AB 2183 today. Since the veto of AB 616, a similar card check bill last year, there has been
zero engagement with the agricultural industry from Governor Newsom and his administration to find
a solution that best serves California farm employees. AB 2183 will not only eviscerate an employee’s
previously sacred right to a secret ballot in a unionization election. It will also erode the property
ownership and First Amendment rights of agricultural businesses across California. CFFA is also
concerned with the idea of a legislative ‘fix’to the issues in AB 2183 being drafted behind closed doors
with no opportunity for input by all stakeholders. If this is any example of how this bill will be
implemented, agricultural employees throughout California will have no say in their future. Today is
a sad day for California agriculture and California farmworkers.”

LeMay continued, “While the proponents of AB 2183 purported the focus of this bill is on “vote-by-mail balloting” for agricultural employees, it is not. Rather, the only beneficiary of AB 2183’s passage is a specific interested party looking to bolster their diminishing relevance. CFFA is disappointed that Governor Newsom succumbed to pressure from leaders in Washington, D.C. that voiced support for AB 2183. Their opinion on this issue was unwelcomed and should have had no bearing on his decision.”

Lastly, LeMay stated, “The Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) has long protected the right of
agricultural employees to a secret ballot election supervised by the ALRB, free of intimidation and
influence by any interested party. The enactment of AB 2183 takes away the right to a free and fair
election process for all farmworkers and could change how agriculture operates in California going
forward.”

2022-10-04T10:41:57-07:00October 4th, 2022|

Farm Bureau President Responds to Signing of AB 2183

By Peter Hecht, CAFB

California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson today responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signing of Assembly Bill 2183.

“The California Farm Bureau is deeply disappointed in Gov. Newsom’s decision to sign the misguided union organizing legislation, Assembly Bill 2183. Farm Bureau stands with California’s agricultural employees and will continue to defend their right to make uncoerced choices about union representation. However, the governor’s unfortunate decision to sign this bill will create a mail-in balloting system that threatens the integrity of secret ballot elections and leaves farm employees vulnerable to intimidation by union organizers with an obvious interest in the outcome. It also forces California’s farmers and ranchers to choose to give up free speech and private property rights in a dubious trade to allow their employees a real voice in a union election.”

2022-09-30T08:41:28-07:00September 30th, 2022|

The Time is Now to Abolish The California ALRB

OP-ED

SB 1409 Would Shut Down the Failed ALRB

By Jesse Rojas

Former President Ronald Reagan said, “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!”

However, SB 1409, a bill introduced by Senator Shannon Grove, would say enough is enough for one state board that no longer serves its original purpose.

The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) was established in 1975 to oversee and protect the rights of agricultural employees to organize and decide whether or not to have labor unions represent them.

The ALRB has failed in its charge to protect the rights of all farm workers regardless of whether or not they belong to a union.

Nowhere is this more evident than in its seemingly cozy relationship with the United Farm Workers (UFW), especially as it relates to the UFW’s efforts to force a state-imposed union contract on Gerawan Farming against the will of a majority of Gerawan Farm employees. In further disgrace, this so-called non-negotiated union contract would have lowered the take-home pay of thousands of farmworkers.

It took over five years, the most prominent labor protests in California’s history, and several court decisions for the ALRB’s unjustified interference at Gerawan to come to an end. Estimates show the ALRB spent over $10 million taxpayer dollars in their attempt to suppress the voices of thousands of Latino immigrant farmworkers.

While this case received high profile attention, many agricultural producers have stories of the ALRB attorneys harassing employers and even workers who disagree with the Board’s union bias. This bias continues even today. The ALRB is inundated with headlines on corruption, segregation, bullying, harassment, conflicts of interest, whistleblowers, interference, and a long history of trampling workers’ rights.

Unfortunately for the ALRB, union activity in the agricultural sector has all but disappeared, while on some farms, employees are choosing to stop affiliating with the UFW.

Union activity is so low that a recent UC Merced study found that the number of agricultural workers who belong to a union is statistically zero, possibly only a few thousand out of 400,000 farmworkers statewide.

Former ALRB chairman William B. Gould quit in anger by sending a letter to former Governor Brown describing the 1975 law as “irrelevant to farmworkers” and that the UFW has “absolutely no interest in organizing the unorganized.”

With no union elections to oversee, what is the role now of the ALRB?

Indeed, the Board no longer serves its function. Of course, try telling that to the Board’s 44 staff attorneys who are now busy pursuing charges against employers for allegedly “bad” working conditions.

This change in focus by the ALRB is entirely duplicative of other state agencies like the California Department of Industrial Relations, the Employment Development Department, and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

Those departments already oversee employee facilities and accusations of unfair labor conditions, so why do we need the ALRB?

Senator Grove’s bill answers that question. There is no need for the Board anymore.

The Senator is proposing to take the $11 million that taxpayers spend on those attorneys who file make-work lawsuits against businesses and spend the money on much-needed farmworker housing.

Farmworker housing programs are notoriously underfunded. Helping actual farmworkers would be a more fitting way to spend the ALRB’s budget.

SB 1409 is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Labor Committee on April 27th. Let’s hope Senators see the wisdom of putting an end to this government agency and prove President Reagan wrong.

 

Jesse Rojas is a farmworker rights activist, spokesperson for Pick Justice, founder of California Farm Workers & Families, and a Central Valley Taxpayers Association board member. Rojas, an immigrant, also launched Mi America En La Radio, the first conservative Spanish-language radio show in the Central Valley. As CEO of The Redd Group, LLC, his organization offers labor relations, human resources consulting, public relations, and political consulting.

2022-04-27T13:27:30-07:00April 25th, 2022|

Act Now to Help Pass the USMCA

House to Take First Step Towards Full Ratification of USMCA

Provided by California Farm Bureau Federation

This Thursday, the House will take the first step towards full ratification of the renegotiated NAFTA known as the “US-Mexico-Canada Agreement” (USMCA). California agriculture exports $6.6 billion in goods to Canada and Mexico and supports more than 56,000 jobs.
 
Since NAFTA was implemented, U.S. agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico quadrupled from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $39 billion in 2017. After President Trump renegotiated NAFTA, the International Trade Commission determined that the USMCA would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy and a positive impact on U.S. agriculture. An additional $2.2 billion in exports is expected once this agreement is ratified.
 
Congress must pass USMCA to preserve the proven successes of NAFTA while enjoying greater access to dairy, chicken, and eggs. The agreement has positive updates for fruit exports, improvements in biotechnology, protected geographical indications, and strengthened sanitary/phytosanitary measures.
 
All in all, the USMCA is needed to bring more stability to the volatile trade market. Please reach out today to your U.S. Representative to urge their YES vote on this important agreement.

Click Here: ACT NOW for USMCA House Passage

2019-12-25T14:06:59-08:00December 18th, 2019|

Employee Satisfaction is Key

Farm Employee Satisfaction: It’s Not Money, It’s Respect

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Showing respect to your field and farm workers and can really pay off. According to Raul Calvo of Employers Services, he’s all about leadership, management development, human resources, and employee relations training. Calvo described a situation recently in the central valley. It was a farm operation with two Labor contractors contributing.

California Fresh Fruit Association

California farm workers harvesting tree fruit

The employees from both farm labor contractors are interested in the same thing. “We want more money and we want more benefits. We want to improve our lives.’ So, they all wanted this,” said Calvo. The UFW union showed up and was able to latch on some of the employees of one of the Labor contractors.

“The UFW was able to convince almost all of the employees from farm labor contractor one to walk out of the field,” he said. These employees basically went on strike until they get higher pay. After seeing one group walk, Calvo decided to talk to employees from another company to see their views on the subject. “It got down to yes, we want a better life. Yes, we would like this company to pay us more and to give us more benefits, but we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt,” Calvo said.

The other companies treated their employees with respect and that is why they did not walk out. The company relates to their employees and treats them as individuals.

2019-07-31T21:12:33-07:00July 30th, 2019|

California Grape Growers Award Scholarships

Table Grape Growers Help Children of Field Workers

News Release

California’s table grape growers recently awarded scholarships to seven students in grape growing regions of the state. All recipients will be attending California universities or vocational schools.

Four field worker scholarships were awarded: one $3,500, two-year award for study at a vocational school and three $20,000, four-year awards for study at a California university. Three $20,000, four-year agricultural scholarships for study at a California university were also awarded.

 2019 scholarship recipients: $20,000 Four-year Field Worker Scholarships

Mr. Alex Aguilar is a graduate of Shafter High School. He graduated with a 4.3-grade point average and was the associated student body president as well as the all-state, small-school football player of the year. Alex plans to attend San Diego State University, where he will major in mechanical engineering with the goal of becoming an engineer.

Alex Aguilar

Ms. Julissa Elizondo is a graduate of Cesar E. Chavez High School in Delano, where she graduated with a grade point average of over 4.0. Julissa was a member of the superintendent’s honor roll and held an associated student body executive position. She plans to attend UC Davis to major in cell biology with the career goal of becoming an OB/GYN.

Julissa Ruby Elizondo

Mr. Diego Garcia is a graduate of Harmony Magnet Academy High School in Strathmore. He is a California Scholastic Federation member as well as an adult literacy volunteer. Diego graduated with a 4.17 grade point average, and his SAT score placed him in the 89th percentile nationally. He plans to attend UC Davis, where he will major in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior with the goal of becoming a surgeon.

Diego Garcia

$3,500 Two-year Field Worker Scholarship

Ms. Stephanie Torres is a graduate of Porterville High School. Stephanie plans to attend the Clovis Culinary Arts Academy and will pursue a career as a pastry chef. Stephanie graduated with a 3.3-grade point average.

Stephanie Alejandra Ramos Torres

$20,000 Four-year Agricultural Scholarships

Mr. Juan Espinoza is a graduate of Shafter High School, where he held a 4.3-grade point average. He is a four-year member of FFA, a member of the football team and the soccer team’s defensive player of the year. Juan plans to attend CSU Bakersfield, where he will major in agricultural engineering with a goal of mechanizing the table grape harvest.

Juan Nieto Espinoza

Mr. Nicholas Patton is a graduate of Golden West High School in Visalia, where he maintained a 4.0 grade point average. Nicholas was actively involved in FFA and the MVP of the varsity water polo team. He plans to attend UC Davis to major in biotechnology, followed by the pursuit of a master’s degree in biological engineering at Cornell University. Nicholas’ final goal is to develop new food technologies.

Nicholas Patton

Mr. Zachary Wilson is a graduate of Kingsburg High School with a 3.95 grade point average. He was a four-year honor roll student and associated student body vice president, as well as a member of Future Farmers of America (FFA), where he won numerous awards. Zachary plans to attend Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, to major in both agricultural sciences and agricultural business with the career goal of owning an agricultural business.

Zachary Wilson

Since 1985, the California Table Grape Commission (commission) has awarded scholarships to children of table grape field workers.

More than 130 students have received scholarships to attend vocational schools, community colleges, and California universities. In 2012, the commission created a new scholarship program, one designed to encourage those who want to study and work in the agriculture industry with an emphasis in the table grape industry.

To date, the program has helped 27 students attend four-year California universities.

2019-07-09T15:04:16-07:00July 9th, 2019|

2019 Strawberry Harvest is Brisk

Labor Tight, But Incentive Programs Keep Berries Harvested

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

The 2019 strawberry harvest is going strong, and field employees are busy picking at the height the ripeness. Carolyn O’Donnell, a communication director for the California Strawberry Commission based in Watsonville, said lots of hands are harvesting the berries.

Carolyn O'Donnell

Carolyn O’Donnell, communications director, California Strawberry Commission

“We need to harvest the berries when ready,” O’Donnell said. “We can’t leave the ripe berries on the plant a few extra days, and we can’t harvest them early and then ripen them in some other modified atmosphere. They have to be picked when they’re ready to go. So, timing is part of it, as well as just having an adequate supply.”

O’Donnell explained how growers are handling the tight labor supply.

“It’s been a challenge. The growers have been doing all kinds of different incentive programs. Definitely, wages have been raised, different benefits have been offered, but we do find that growers are still struggling to keep up with their harvest,” O’Donnell said.

And when those harvesters out there picking the strawberries, they want to make the money, and they are in fact running back and forth with their trays to refill them.

“We are definitely in a busy harvest season right now. And so with a quick harvest comes incentive pay. And harvest workers will be hustling a little bit more. There are lots of berries to pick. There is money to be made,” O’Donnell said.

2019-07-08T16:37:07-07:00July 8th, 2019|

North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance Looks for Solutions

Solutions From The Land on System Implementation

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Ernie Shea, president of Solutions From the Land. He explained the importance of system implementation and the North American Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance.

“Our primary areas of focus at the moment are clean energy, climate change, and soil and water conservation in the 21st century,” he said.

They are integrating these areas of focus and the systems involved. There is still a need to find a solution for profitability.

“The biggest and important areas of focus is finding a way to respond to the changing climatic conditions and deliver solutions that create wealth and job opportunities for agriculture,” Shea said.

North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance is looking for ways to deliver solutions.

“We have created the North American Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, and it is the continental platform for farm and conservation groups that are looking at ways these landscapes can deliver solutions,” Shea explained.

There are conversations taking place at the state level about becoming more sustainable, resilient, and participating in the low carbon economy.

“Carbon sequestration is one of the more exciting new areas of opportunity that are coming for agriculture,” Shea said.

Farming has been framed as a problem in the past.

“Oftentimes, we’re framed as the problem child,” Shea said.

When managing a farming operation, good solid conservation practices are important.

“No-till cover crops are an example that you are increasing the organic content. You are sequestering carbon at a scale that goes beyond what people originally gave us credit for it,” Shea explained.

Well-managed agricultural systems help on many levels. In the upper Midwest, there are continuous corn operations, even no-till corn operations.

“They were measuring the carbon content in the first meter, and they weren’t realizing that the root systems, we’re pulling carbon down well below one meter down to two meters in deeper,” Shea said.

These monoculture landscapes are labeled as something bad. This landscape, in particular, was a critically needed solution. Well-managed agricultural systems can deliver food, feed, fiber, energy, and environmental services.

“If we can figure out a way to create a monitoring and measuring system, then 21st-century agriculture will be seen as solutions, not defined as problems,” Shea said.

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00June 25th, 2019|

Food Safety in the Field and Post Harvest

Farmers See Food Safety As Critical

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

There was a recent panel discussion at the Safe Food of California Convention on how to keep food safe in the field and post-harvest. Tom Jones, senior director of analytic services with the Safe Food Alliance, stated that microbial food safety is being looked at to see what the key factors are.

The morning session was focused on getting the essential points of microbial food safety, such as what to worry about, key parameters to minimize the chance of contamination, and chemical contaminants.

“California agriculture is involved in growing crops for around the world, and so there are other concerns that we have to think about, such as pesticides or mycotoxins, where regulations might be different in different countries,” Jones said.

The Safe Food Alliance has to think about what products the consumer, customers, and buyers are looking for.

Innovative ideas like Blockchain are being used to keep food safe by tracking information.

“There are alternative treatments to traditional thermal processes that maintain the freshness of the food and its nutritional quantity, but [are] also able to destroy the pathogens,” Jones said.

Experts in Sacramento are advocating for food safety every day. They also advocate for agriculture and the challenges faced both domestically and internationally.

“We talked about everything from the challenges of Immigration and Labor to proposition 65 toxins regulations, the current trade disputes internationally, and how those are impacting California agriculture,” Jones said.

2021-05-12T11:05:03-07:00June 7th, 2019|
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