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|

Citrus Research Board Seeks to Hire New President

Nationwide Search Is On

Edited by Patrick Cavanaugh

The Citrus Research Board (CRB) has launched a nationwide search to hire a new president for the organization. A search committee is being formed.

“This year marks the Citrus Research Board’s 50th anniversary,” said CRB Chairman Dan Dreyer. “As we celebrate this milestone, we also are rededicating ourselves to do our utmost to ensure the success of the California citrus growers.” Dreyer said the CRB also is continuing to ramp up its fight against Huanglongbing, the deadliest citrus disease to date, which has devastated crops in other worldwide growing regions and potentially presents a critical threat to California citrus.

Citrus Research Board“Our search committee will be looking for a strong, research-focused senior executive – a consensus builder who can lead the organization and the California citrus industry through this challenging time and significantly contribute to the sustainability of California growers,” Dreyer said.

The CRB administers the California Citrus Research Program, the grower-funded and grower-directed program established in 1968 enabling the State’s citrus producers to sponsor and support needed research. More information about the Citrus Research Board may be found at www.citrusresearch.org.

###
Citrus Research Board
217 N. Encina Street, Visalia, CA 93291
Phone: 559.738.0246 | Fax: 559.738.0607
events@citrusresearch.org | www.citrusresearch.org
Copyright © 2018 Citrus Research Board | All rights reserved.
2018-10-02T19:46:05-07:00October 2nd, 2018|

Karen Klonsky Dies, Thursday, Sept. 27

Klonsky Credited for CA Agricultural Cost and Return Studies

 

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor and Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

Editor’s Note: We extend our deepest condolences to Karen’s family. Below is our interview with Karen upon her retirement in 2015.

 

This is an exclusive interview with Karen Klonsky, UC Davis Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, in the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Her expertise has been farm management and production, sustainable agriculture and organic agriculture.

CalAgToday: Congratulations on your recent retirement!UCANR 100 years logo

Klonsky: Thanks, Patrick. I retired on July 1, 2015, after 34 years. I started at UC Davis in ’81, straight from graduate school.

CalAgToday: What has been your primary research interest?

Klonsky: My primary research areas are c and organic agriculture. I have approached these subjects from several dimensions, including the economic feasibility of alternative farming practices, the size and growth of organic production in California, and factors influencing the adoption of alternative farming systems.

Karen Klonsky UC Cooperative Extension specialist

Karen Klonsky UC Cooperative Extension specialist

CalAgToday:  Wow, what a great career! I understand your interest in alternative farming systems began with your dissertation work comparing alfalfa systems with integrated pest management.

Klonsky: I studied agricultural economics in graduate school and started working with a professor in my department who had a joint appointment in agricultural economics and entomology. And I just became very interested in that research area.

I worked with entomologists and researchers on a computer model of plants and alfalfa weevils, and their interaction, plus a management component. I studied the plant and bug components, then did the management part and imposed it on top and asked, ‘If you did this, how many bugs would die?’ The plant model showed how much the alfalfa would grow, and at what point you could cut the alfalfa and achieve the desired yield. I never actually did any fieldwork.”

CalAgToday:  Since 1983, you not only directed ongoing Cost and Return Studies, but the development of an entire archived library of Cost and Return Studies for the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. You recently completed studies on pistachios and walnuts, right?

Klonsky: Yes, both “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce English Walnuts In the Sacramento Valley, Micro sprinkler irrigated” and “Sample Costs to Establish and Produce Pistachios In the San Joaquin Valley-South, Low-Volume Irrigation.”

Our library contains studies about field, tree and vine crops and animal commodities. But since I retired, Dan Sumner, director, University of California Agricultural Issues Center and Frank H. Buck, Jr. Distinguished Professor for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics has taken that over and I continue to be peripherally involved.

CalAgToday:  These cost studies have been recognized worldwide.ARE Cost and Return Studies

Klonsky: Yes, and it has been very gratifying work. We decided to put them online routinely, and we have had a million downloads per year. Around 2005, Pete Livingston, my staff research associate, got the idea of scanning in the older studies. All of the newer studies were in electronic file format, so posting was easy. However, most of the older studies were paper copies, so we got a grant to scan and add them to our new online archive.

CalAgToday:  What was the most interesting thing about doing those cost studies?

Klonsky: I loved doing those studies. I really learned a lot because all cost studies are done directly with farmers we met through county farm advisors. I really got to know what farmers were thinking about and what their options were.

CalAgToday:  So those were real costs, not university costs?

Klonsky: Those were not university costs. The farmers tell us what equipment they will use, and then we calculate the cost of using their equipment—the fuel used to operate the equipment and the repair costs—with an agriculture-engineering program.

CalAgToday:  Do you have a math background?

Klonsky: Yes, I got my bachelor’s at the University of Michigan in mathematics. It was very helpful.

CalAgToday:  And you also earned your Ph.D. at the University of Michigan?

Klonsky: Yes.

CalAgToday:  So did you grow up in Michigan?

Klonsky: No, I grew up in New York.

CalAgToday:  And you had an interest in going to Michigan State University?

Klonsky:  I had an interest in agriculture because I had an uncle who farmed corn and vegetables in upstate New York. We would go up there and I thought it was the most wonderful thing in the world.

CalAgToday:  What were some of the highlights of your career?

Klonsky: For many, many years, I was involved in the long-term on-campus sustainable agriculture research on land that is now on Russell Ranch, but it started as Sustainable Ag Farming Systems. We looked at four different farming systems, organic, low input, high-input, and we did a lot of analyses with cover crops and rotations. It was great to work on that project.

CalAgToday: And you worked with USDA on the trends of organic farms?

Klonsky: Then I worked quite a bit with Department of Food and Agriculture on using the registration data for their organic farmers to compile statistics about how many farmers they had, what they grew, and the number of acres they planted with each crop. They had this database, which started in 1992 I believe, but they weren’t using it. Now the most recent registration analysis is available for 2012.

CalAgToday:  Just to try to get more data on the organic movement and organic growth?

Klonsky: Yes, because there was no data at all about it. Now NASS (National Agriculture Statistics Service) conducts a nationwide Organic Census, in addition to the regular Census of Agriculture.

CalAgToday:  I understand you served as an editor of the Journal of American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA). What did that entail?ASFMRA

Klonsky: Yes. I did that for many years. ASFMRA is a national organization. The Journal of the ASFMRA comes out annually. As editor, I corresponded with the authors, assigned reviewers, and ultimately, accepted or rejected submissions, like any journal.

CalAgToday:  Did you travel a lot with your work and presentations?

Klonsky: You know, not so much, I went to Spain one time and France once for work. But I did travel around domestically to symposiums and conferences to speak on the economics of growing a lot of different crops, including many presentations at the EcoFarm Conference.

CalAgToday:  You worked and collaborated with some really interesting people.

Klonsky: Most of my important collaborations were conducting trials with people in other disciplines. For instance, at Russell Ranch, I was the only economist involved in the collaboration with plant pathologists and pomologists who ran trials to discover fumigation alternatives in the preplanting of trees.

Then I worked with people at UC Santa Cruz on alternatives for strawberry fumigation. Most of my work has been interdisciplinary.

CalAgToday:  California farming is a tremendously diverse industry. We produce 60% of the fruits and vegetables, and nearly 100 percent of the nut crops that people across the country consume. Any comments on that and on how, valiant and resilient farmers are to get through year after year, particularly lately with the drought and the lack of water deliveries?

Klonsky: When I first started, there was a land price bubble, and there were a lot of bankruptcies because people had these land payments they just couldn’t pay.

It was kind of like the mortgage crisis that housing saw in 2008, agriculture saw in the early 80s.

CalAgToday:  So as you have been editor for the Journal of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers, you see land values going up and that keeps agriculture strong—the high land values, right?

Klonsky: Well, but it keeps it expensive. So now there is more and more leasing of land. As farmers retire from permanent crops, they have an orchard, but they don’t really want to sell it, so they lease it.

CalAgToday:  There you go. Keep it somehow in the family.

Klonsky: Yes, they try to keep ownership in the family. Or what we see also are these development leases where a young farmer can’t afford to buy the land, so they lease the land, but they pay for the trees to be planted.

CalAgToday:  So you are still coming to your office at UC Davis?

Klonsky: I am officially retired, but we have what we call a ‘partial recall’ where you can do things if you have funding. I have a project along with Rachel Goodhue, Professor, UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, funded through the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. The Department of Pesticide Regulations is required by law to do an economic analysis of all proposed new regulations. So that is what I am working on.

CalAgToday:  Give me a couple of examples. VOC regulations?

Klonsky: Yeah, we do VOC.

CalAgToday:  Are you looking at sustainable groundwater legislation?

Klonsky: No, just pesticide regulation. It is funded by the Mill tax on pesticides.

CalAgToday:  Did you work with a lot of graduate students at UC Davis?UC Davis Graduate Studies

Klonsky: Oh yeah, I worked with a lot of graduate students coming through. One of them was on different ways of pesticide management on eucalyptus trees. I said I went to Spain. On that trip, I spoke about growing eucalyptus for firewood.

CalAgToday:  That was an economic study, wasn’t it?

Klonsky: Yes it was. They grow it not for firewood, but for paper. But that never really caught on here.

CalAgToday:  Are you bullish on agriculture? Do you think Ag is going to continue thriving in California?

Klonsky: Oh, sure. Oh, sure. But I think that the water situation is definitely real, and I think agriculture already has definitely made tremendous strides in irrigation systems, especially the subsurface irrigation in vegetables, in particular processing tomatoes, which I worked on.

CalAgToday:  That was a huge improvement in growing tomatoes. And people didn’t think it was going to work, but it turned out to be fantastic.

Klonsky: Yeah, a really win-win on that one. And orchards are getting more efficient. If you look at the water per pound of crop produced, you see major improvements with water efficiency.

CalAgToday:  Absolutely. Of course, most plants transpire most of the water they take up through the roots, up through the leaves and the stomata cells. By the way, do you have any interesting stories regarding your career?

Klonsky: It’s not the highlight, but the weirdest thing of my career is I got an email from somebody in Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries from the United Arab Emirates. They wanted me to give a live presentation about Cooperative Extension in California and how it’s organized.

So I had to go to this office building in downtown Sacramento at 10:00 at night because of the time difference. I went into a conference room that had a special kind of projector so I could see them and they could see me. And on the monitor I see all these men walked in—they were all men—and half of them were in Western dress and half of them were wearing a Sheik-like headdress, with a band that sits on top and holds it on.

That was crazy, just being downtown after everybody is gone and the whole building was dark and quiet, except the one room that I was in.

CalAgToday:  How long was the presentation?

Klonsky: Gosh, maybe an hour.

CalAgToday:  You needed to do some research for that presentation?

Klonsky: Yeah, I had to do some research, I had to think about Cooperative Extension in a different way—the big picture. 

CalAgToday:  Keep up the good work, and I hope you are enjoying retirement.

Klonsky: Yeah, I come in two days a week, so it is nice to see everybody. I still get a lot of emails, which I need to answer.

2018-10-02T20:13:53-07:00September 29th, 2018|

ALRB Officially Certifies Gerawan Workers’ “No Union” Vote

“No Union” is Official Result

News Release Edited by Laurie Greene

TODAY, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) officially certified that a majority of the valid ballots from the November 5, 2013, election that were counted five years later in Fresno on September 18 were cast as “No Union.” In addition, the ALRB concluded that “the United Farm Workers of America thereby lost its prior status as the exclusive representative of the employees for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

Silvia Lopez, a Gerawan employee at the time, filed the petition on October 25, 2013, to decertify the UFW as the bargaining representative of the agricultural employees of Gerawan Farming, Inc., which led to the sanctioned decertification election a few weeks later. Today, Lopez commented, “I cannot believe what just happened today. The ALRB certified our votes and results. I am speechless and beyond excited and happy because justice was finally done.”

Count our votes Farm workers' rights UFW Endorsement "No Union"

Count the Votes

Said attorney Anthony Raimondo, “This is a great day for farm workers all across the state of California who can finally celebrate the fact that they wll be the ones who decide their future, not a government agency or a politically connected union. The workers will rest easy tonight knowing that their wages belong to them and will not be taken from them by the United Farm Workers union.”

“We are grateful that the ALRB has recognized the undeniable truth of the workers’ will as expressed in the vote,” Raimondo continued, “and relieved that the agency has decided to abandon its alliance with the UFW and work for the rights of California farmworkers rather than the financial health of a failing union.”

Jesse Rojas, spokesperson for Pick Justice, stated, “Pick Justice was started because of the courage, strength and determination of thousands of farmworkers who simply wanted the right to choose and to be treated equally like every other worker in the state and country. We are thankful that the ALRB finally did the right thing after 5 years of suppressing workers’ rights. Today is a historic and huge victory for the Gerawan farmworkers. Pick Justice is just getting started and will continue to advocate for what is right.”

Link: To review the ALRB Certification of the November 2013 Election to Decertify UFW issued TODAY, September 27, 2109, click on 44 ALRB No. 10.

2018-10-09T22:42:51-07:00September 27th, 2018|

Gerawan Statement on the Results of the November 5, 2013 Decertification Election

The following statement was issued on September 18, 2018, by Gerawan Farming Inc. regarding TODAY’S Decertification Election Ballot Count

Fresno, CA — Our employees have been waiting since November 2013 for their votes to be counted. After a historic struggle, they achieved that right today, in spite of the efforts by the UFW and the millions of taxpayer dollars spent by the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to deny them that right.

The final vote count was 1,098 “No Union,” and 197 for the UFW.  The employees overwhelmingly rejected the UFW as their bargaining representative – by a 5 to 1 margin – in spite of the ALRB’s last-minute, election day refusal to count approximately 640 ballots challenged by the UFW.

A secret ballot election is intended to embody and reflect the workers’ fundamental right to choose their representation. That right is at the heart of what the Agricultural Labor Relations Act is designed to protect and promote. Today’s vote tally leaves no doubt what our employees want.  It is a ringing endorsement of their right to choose, and a repudiation of concerted, unlawful, and anti-democratic efforts to deny them that right.

We call on the UFW and the ALRB to respect the choices of farmworkers, to certify the results of the election, and to decertify the UFW.  We call on the Legislature and the Governor to take immediate steps to ensure that the ALRB’s violation of the basic human rights of farmworkers never occurs again in California.

CONTACT: David Schwarz

(310) 277-1010

DSchwarz@irell.com

Featured Photo:  Silvia Lopez, Gerawan Farm Employee, listens to the Sept. 18, 2018 Ballot Count of Nov. 2013 Decertification Election.

2018-09-18T17:24:54-07:00September 18th, 2018|

California Coffee Brews Success

Mark Gaskell on California Coffee Crop

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke about the emerging California coffee crop  with Mark Gaskell, who covers San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties as farm advisor for the University of California Small Farm Program as well as the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) Cooperative Extension.

“Currently, there are about 30 farms with maybe 30,000 coffee plants between San Luis Obispo and San Diego Counties,” Gaskell said. “I would expect that to double this year. California’s coffee crop is doing well.”

“There is also now a private company, Frinj Coffee,” explained Gaskell, “that evolved out of a long relationship I had with Jay Ruskey, CEO and co-founder of Goleta-based Good Land Organics. Ruskey participated in some of our early research and development work with California coffee. Our collaboration has justified investment by the number of coffee growers in the Frinj Coffee operations.”

There are 25 growers, according to the Frinj Coffee website.

Coffee cultivation is new to California, because, as Gaskell explained, “traditionally, coffee is grown in subtropical areas, specifically at high elevations where the relatively cooler temperatures are. Cooler temperatures prolong the ripening time, which improves the quality of the coffee beans.”

“So, in the world’s newest coffee growing region, Coastal Southern California,” Gaskell said, “we replaced the high elevation with the influence of the Pacific Ocean. The ocean delivers a huge mass of relatively cool temperatures—always between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. These mild coastal conditions enable a very long ripening season for the coffee cherries and coffee beans.”

Gaskell projects the California coffee crop will be very successful.

“We expect the coffee volume will double this year and probably continue to double for the next few years. Just based on existing interest in coffee, I expect demand to keep pace with the ability of California growers to supply it, and more and more growers will be planting it this year.”

2021-05-12T11:05:12-07:00April 4th, 2018|

Who Safeguards Farm Worker Rights? – Part 8

Pick Justice, Gerawan Farm Workers Protest Forced Unionization

 

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

 

Jesse Rojas, spokesperson for Pick Justice, a farm worker rights group (not a union) organized a rally of farm workers last week at the California Supreme Court building in San Francisco to bring attention to the court hearing on the UFW’s effort to force unionization on farm workers at Gerawan Farming, Inc.—despite having abandoned the workers for nearly 20 years. Over 150 Gerawan workers traveled from the Central Valley to protest the UFW/ALRB team that is pushing for forced unionization of these farm workers via the justice system through Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC).

Jesse Rojas, spokesperson for Pick Justice (PickJustice.com)

Gerawan workers, dressed in blue Pick Justice t-shirts and armed with company ID cards and pay stubs to demonstrate authenticity, chanted at the UFW protesters who wore red UFW t-shirts. Rojas said the UFW individuals were apparently not Gerawan farm workers and were paid to be there. “All attending [in our group] are employees of Gerawan Farming,” he stated.

“I wish all 3,000 Gerawan workers could have come today like they’ve done in the past,” Rojas said. “But they actually have to work because they are real workers and they don’t get paid to come here. They miss days of work. A lot of them are going to get written up. They are going to get into trouble. They have had to find babysitters to take care of their kids; they are real workers.”

Rojas explained the focus of the demonstration is the need for these employees to choose their own future. “At this point, what is really important for them—not just them, but for all farm workers in the state—is simply to have the freedom to choosefreedom to vote.”

“Why would they have to be forced into a contract without reading it, without negotiating it, without approving it?” Rojas asked. “It’s not the American way. That’s not a democracy. The most fundamental civil right that all employees have is the right to vote if they want a union or not or if they want a contract or not.”

“But they are not getting those rights. Why not them? It is their right to vote and have their votes counted,” Rojas said.

If the Court imposes mandatory mediation, Rojas said the outcome “would affect about every farm worker in the state, almost 800,000 of them. The rights of the workers would be taken away.”

“The way mandatory mediation and conciliation works is the ALRB, the state government, has the right to write and impose a contract on employees without their approval,” Rojas explained. “In the Gerawan case, they will not have the right to strike or protest like they are doing today.”

“On top of that, this so-called contract will actually lower their take-home pay,” said Rojas, because mandatory UFW union dues totaling three percent of their paychecks would be imposed on the workers. If any of them refuse to pay the union as a condition of employment, they will be fired.

The justices of the California Supreme Court have until December 5th to make a ruling.

To see a video of Jesse Rojas speaking to California Ag Today, click here.


PickJustice.com celebrates freedom of choice for farm workers. As posted on their website:

We are concerned citizens who support the rights of workers to choose whether or not they want to have a union represent them. We are standing up for workers who are victimized by a politicized government agency.

Freedom of choice is a human right. People who are not educated are deprived of their freedom by those who are educated.

PickJustice.com exists to educate the public about the corrupt relationship between a once-noble union and the dishonest attorneys at the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). We want to help social change to show that, once a union has violated the trust of those it purports to represent, that union no longer votes for the workers.

As César Chávez himself said, “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot un-educate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

A generation ago, many farm workers were afraid of their employers. That isn’t the case anymore.

Thanks to organization against social injustice and a greater consciousness of producers and consumers alike, the plight of thousands of farm workers in America is over.

In César’s words more than three decades ago: “The very fact of our existence forces an entire industry – unionized and non-unionized – to spend millions of dollars year after year on improved wages, on improved working conditions, on benefits for workers.”


Who Safeguards California Farm Employees’ Rights? – Part 9  Court Allows UFW to Force Representation and Dues on Gerawan Employees


2019-12-25T15:48:07-08:00September 14th, 2017|

Who Safeguards CA Farm Workers’ Rights? Part 5

Post-Labor Day, Forced Unionization Hearing at CA Supreme Court

 

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

 

Forced Unionization Hearing

On Tuesday, Sept. 5, one day after Labor Day, busloads of concerned farmers and farm workers will arrive at the Supreme Court of California in San Francisco to support Gerawan Farming and farm workers—and quite possibly 80,000 family farms in the state—against forced unionization in the first case on the Court’s agenda:  Gerawan Farming, Inc. v. Agricultural Labor Relations Board (United Farm Workers of America, Real Party in Interest) and Consolidated Case, S227243 (Kline, P. J., assigned justice pro tempore).

 

Gerawan Case History

Explaining the case history, David Schwarz, attorney for Gerawan Farming, Inc. from the Los Angeles-based law firm of Irell & Manella LLP, said, “This case began almost five years ago in mid-October of 2012. The United Farm Workers (UFW) sent a letter to Gerawan Farming demanding that the company resume bargaining over a collective bargaining agreement. The UFW had won an election at Gerawan in 1990 and was certified to represent the workers by the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) in 1992. After one preliminary negotiating session in early 1995, the union disappeared and wasn’t heard from by Gerawan for nearly 20 years.”

 

“The UFW resurfaced in late 2012 demanding negotiations,” Schwarz stated, “but after ten bargaining sessions, the union abandoned the bargaining table.” This scenario was similar to UFW’s behavior after having won several certification elections by California farm workers employed on separately-owned farms but was unable to obtain first contracts with many growers on behalf of these farm workers.

 

Farm Worker Rights under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act 

According to the ALRB website, all agricultural employees in California, whether or not they are represented by a labor organization (union), have certain rights under the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA or Act). The purpose of the Act is to ensure peace in the agricultural fields by guaranteeing justice for all agricultural workers and stability in labor relations. The ALRA became law in 1975.

The Act describes and protects the rights of agricultural employees to make their own decisions about whether or not they want a union to negotiate with their employer about their wages, hours, and other working conditions. Where the employees, through a secret ballot election, have selected a union to represent them, the Act requires that the employer bargain in good faith with the union concerning wages, hours, and other working conditions.

The Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is the state agency established to enforce the Act.

 

Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC)

“At this juncture, UFW invoked a process known as “Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC), a euphemism for forced-contracting, passed by the legislature in 2002 at the behest of UFW,” Schwarz explained. “Through MMC, the State of California imposes a contract on the employer and its farm workers at the union’s request. In Gerawan’s case, the failure to reach a contract can be explained by the failure of the UFW to show up and attempt to negotiate; however, that failure to bargain—or for that matter, the union’s complete abandonment of the Gerawan farm workers—was deemed irrelevant in the eyes of the ALRB.”

Count our votes Farm workers' rights UFW Endorsement

“The ALRB argued that the union certification in 1992 means the UFW remains the perpetual representative of Gerawan workers now and forever,” said Schwarz, “and until such time as the workers vote the union out through a petitioned election process known as decertification.” The ALRB disregarded both UFW’s failure to represent Gerawan farm workers in any successful contract negotiation and the UFW’s failure to qualify to collect union dues from Gerawan farm workers. Most significantly, the ALRB disregarded the legally-sanctioned and ALRB-supervised election on November 5, 2013, in which Gerawan farm workers had the opportunity to vote to decertify the UFW or not—the ballots of which have never been counted and are believed to be stored in an unknown, unsecured location.

 

“Let’s be clear,” Schwarz explained, “at no point after this union was certified until this union invoked the MMC process, was there an allegation that Gerawan refused to show up or refused to negotiate the terms of the contract. So this is not a case about a grower refusing to show up at the bargaining table or a grower inserting that the abandonment forfeits the right of the union to bargain.”

 

“Rather, this is a case about whether or not the union’s abandonment means that it forfeits the right to compel the State of California to force a contracting process on the workers. And that’s the key difference: between duty to bargain, which is a continuous bargain, and the right, as the union claims, to impose a state-ordered contract.”

 

What is at Stake for Farm Workers?

 

Tal Cloud, president and co-founder of Fresno-based family-owned Paper Pulp & Film, Inc., a converter of printing and industrial papers, including raisin (drying) trays, is part of the team that organized the trip. Cloud said, “The UFW and the California ALRB are hoping the California Supreme Court will rule in their favor by forcing unionization on California farms and farm workers—the next flash point in the two-decade long battle between Gerawan Farming and the UFW.”

 

“People don’t understand that this is incrementalism,” Cloud said. “If the California Supreme Court rules against Gerawan, it literally puts every agricultural operation of any size in the state right in the “bulls-eye” for mandatory UFW unionization, and that is what is so concerning. And although people do not understand it, the laws are already all there; they just need to be formalized. So, yes, it is really scary.”

 

“The ALRB has power in these courts due to California legislators who have given the ALRB all these powers, but without checks or balances,” said Cloud. “So, you have an agency that basically plays god with people’s lives and there are no legitimate governmental organizations or courts looking at it, until now that [the forced unionization case] has come to the California Supreme Court.”

 

The upcoming California Supreme Court hearing follows the UFW’s appeal of a lower court ruling in favor of Gerawan on the same issue in 2015. “We are hoping that the Court goes by the law, and does not give [the ALRB and UFW] this kind of opportunity to really put all of our operations in California at risk for forced unionization and forced contracts,” Cloud said.

 

“The bus trip on Tuesday is to make a statement and not sit by silently. The hearing is at 9:00 A.M., and more than 300 people from the Valley are going. We are leaving at 3:30 AM, providing food for our passengers and protesting outside the Supreme Court. The UFW also will be rallying at the Supreme Court.

 

It remains uncertain if farm workers will be allowed inside the courtroom. Cloud said, “There has already been a lot of back and forth about not allowing any farm workers, or Silvia Lopez (the Gerawan farm worker spokesperson) into the courtroom. The attorneys are still fighting on that. But there will be a big protest, so to speak, outside.”

 

“There are public areas for us to be in, and we will be peaceful like all the other demonstrations that we have done,” Cloud said. “My hope is that everyone stays safe and we do not have extremists or rabble-rousers there who try to cause problems.”

 

Cloud said there is a glimmer of hope for the farming industry because the UFW lost to the lower courts. “But, you just don’t know. We are hoping these farmers, farm workers and protesters will bring attention to this issue,” he said.

 

Once the California Supreme Court hearing is completed, the court will have 90 days to make its ruling. “The reality is:  If agriculture does not get behind the effort against MMC now, and the California Supreme Court reverses the lower court’s decision, literally every farming organization in California could face unionization. And that is a scary thought,” said Cloud.

 

“Likewise, if the ruling goes against the UFW,” Cloud said, “I am sure the case will go to United States Supreme Court, which would certainly be a do-or-die point for agriculture.”


Who Safeguards CA Farm Workers’ Rights? Part 6 – Facts vs. PR


 

2019-12-25T15:36:31-08:00September 4th, 2017|

Embattled Farmer John Duarte Defends Farming in Federal Court

Farmer Must Defend Plowing His Wheat Field

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

John Duarte, a California farmer who gained national attention after the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE or Army Corps) sued him for plowing his Tehama County wheat field, will defend himself in a federal courthouse in Sacramento on Tuesday, August 15.

“Agriculture is at a very dire crossroads right now,” said Duarte, imploring all farming stakeholders and food consumers across the country “to get loud with their Senators, Representatives and USACE. And if you know how to get ahold of President Trump, give him a call.”

In February 2013, with no warning or opportunity to discuss the matter, USACE sent Duarte a cease and desist letter to suspend farming operations, claiming that he had illegally filled wetlands on his wheat field simply by plowing it.

“I am being prosecuted for planting wheat in a wheat field during a global food crisis,” Duarte said. “They’re claiming I should have pulled a [Clean Water Act] permit that nobody has ever pulled and conducted practices that nobody has ever conducted to grow wheat.”

Duarte who is also the owner of Duarte Nursery, argues that the Army Corps violated his constitutional right to due process. He said the agency came down on him hard and never gave him an opportunity to defend himself against the accusations before levying the fine. Duarte now faces $2.8 million in government fines.

“The Army Corps of Engineers is prosecuting us,” Duarte said, “and the Army Corps does not even have subject matter jurisdiction to conduct this prosecution.”

In a June 14, 2017, news release, Tony Francois, senior attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation, explained, “Prosecutors and bureaucrats are seeking to establish, for the first time, that farmers with seasonal puddles need a federal wetlands permit in order to plow their own private land—even though plowing is exempt from Clean Water Act (CWA) coverage.”

Duarte believes if he were to lose the upcoming trial, it would change the way farmers in America farm. “This battle may never be resurrected in court. Taking this battle to the Supreme Court on several fronts is the only way to give farmers the long-term security they need, the right to farm and property rights protections, to deliver food security to America.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, the farm bureau in Duarte’s backyard and farm bureaus across the country are behind him.

“The Butte County Farm Bureau has 1065 members,” Duarte stated, “and they donated a check for $10,650 to the Duarte Defense Fund at California Farm Bureau Federation. That’s $10 a member! Thanks to the challenge from Biggs, CA, farmer, Clark Becker (President of the Butte County Farm Bureau) that defense fund has already collected over $100,000 in support of our lawsuit. We are hoping to collect hundreds of thousands more.”

Duarte said, “Although this lawsuit for planting wheat in a wheat field has gained a lot of attention, we need more help to fight it.”

While Duarte is grateful for the political support in favor of Duarte Nursery’s position in this wetlands prosecution, he wants to settle this case before trial. “We need complete rights to appeal, and if necessary, to take it to the Supreme Court of the United States. We must protect food security as well as farmers’ right to farm.”

“My greatest nightmare is if Duarte Nursery is forced into settling this case without the right to appeal. If we cannot get such a release, American farming could be oppressed by federal agencies into the future, and there won’t be another fool to follow us and stand up to them again.”

“Any farmer can see the kind of abuse—the misstatements, the falsehoods, the misquoting of laws that the Department of Justice is using in this case against us—and the $2.5 to $3 million we’re spending to fight this battle. There won’t be another family to come along and fight like this in the future.”

2017-09-02T23:46:02-07:00August 12th, 2017|
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