UNIONS PRESSING GROWERS HARD
August 26, 2013
According to a report released TODAY by the ALRB, growers are being pressured by unions to provide grievance-related information, to award retroactive wage increases, to not use misleading advertising, to not retaliate and to provide Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation intervention.
On July 29, 2013, the Board issued a decision affirming the Administrative Law Judge’s decision in May that Bud Antle, Inc. violated sections of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) by failing to supply the Teamsters Union, Local 890 with requested information to process grievances.
ALRB decided the information sought by the Union was relevant to the grievances filed, and the conclusion that Bud Antle Inc.’s claim of privilege did not support its categorical refusal to supply the information. Bud Antle Inc. contended that the information sought was in the possession and control of Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc. (Dole), and was therefore unavailable. The Board affirmed that Bud Antle, Inc. could not escape responsibility for failing to provide information by merely asserting the information was in the hands of a third party.
Gerawan Farming, Inc. (two issues)
On July 29, 2013, the Board issued its decision against Gerawan Farming, Inc., which paid for an advertising campaign that attacks Senate bill 25, which requires farm workers to be part of the United Farm Workers of America. Ag Leaders say it’s unfair to force farm workers to join unions and are calling on state lawmakers to strike down the legislation. Those in favor of the bill claim the ad is misleading because it uses a person with an accent speaking against the bill. The bill is up for a vote in the assembly over the next four weeks.
On July 10, 2013, Lupe Garcia, an employee of Gerawan Farming, Inc. filed a “petition for intervention” in the Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation (MMC) case involving Gerawan and United Farm Workers of America (UFW) The ALRB issued a decision dismissing the employee’s petition as he was not a party to the MMC proceedings under the Board’s regulations. The Board further found that, even if the standards for intervention in civil court cases were applicable to MMC cases, Garcia did not qualify for intervention under those standards.
George Amaral Ranches, Inc.
On July 18, 2013, ALRB dismissed a United Farm Workers of America (UFW) petition that wage increases for this year provided for in the mediator-imposed contract should have been made retroactive to January 1, 2013 instead of July 1, 2013, as a remedy for the mediator filing his report late. The Board noted that retroactivity of an imposed contract could be proposed by the parties during the mediation process only, which the UFW did not propose in this matter.
On July 1, 2013, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Mark Soble issued a decision in H & R Gunlund Ranches, Inc., Caruthers, accused of allegedly engaging in the following unfair labor practices violations: discharging a grape vine pruning and tying crew in 2009 in retaliation for the crew protesting a reduction in their piece rate wages; discharging a crew on December 3, 2009, in retaliation for the crew’s protest against a reduction in their piece rate wages and for having filed charges with the ALRB; and, unlawfully refusing to rehire, in 2010 and thereafter, approximately three-fourths of the crew in retaliation for the protests and ALRB filings.
The ALJ found that all of the unfair labor practices occurred as alleged. By firing the workers in response to their protected, concerted activity and by unlawfully failing to rehire the crew in retaliation for their protests and having filed charges with the ALRB, the company committed unfair labor practices.
The ALJ’s recommendation requires the company to rehire the unlawfully discharged workers and to provide them with back pay.
The ALRB holds that the Agricultural Labor Relations Act is a law that gives all farm workers in California these rights:
1.To organize yourselves;
2.To form, join or help unions
3.To vote in a secret ballot election to decide whether you want a union to represent you
4.To bargain with your employer about your wages and working conditions through a union chosen by a majority of the employees and certified by the Board
5.To act together with other workers to help and protect one another
6.To decide not to do any of these things.
Ag officials warn all farmers to take care of employees, pay them fairly and instill a good working environment.