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FlashReport Weblog on California Politics

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Katy Grimes

What’s good for union is bad for laborer’s civil rights

Many have recently observed there appears to be collusion between the United Farm Workers union and the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, in an effort to boost the shrinking labor union by targeting one of the biggest non-union farming operations in the state.

Should they succeed in unionizing Gerawan Farming employees, adding the 5,000 Gerawan farmworkers would more than double union membership, and certainly boost the UFW’s economic status, and the ALRB’s worth to the state.

Conundrum

Several thousand-farm workers in California’s Central Valley have so far failed to get the state agriculture labor board to count their votes on a standard, legal labor union issue.

Why? Because the vote the farm workers took was to de-certify the United Farm… Read More

Katy Grimes

ALRB legal abuse — where’s legislative oversight?

The general counsel of the Agriculture Labor Relations Board went to court last week to impose a union contract on Gerawan Farming employees, without proper input from the farm workers, and without counting the ballots of a recent United Farm Workers union decertification election, held in November 2013.

The ALRB’s latest state-sponsored union bullying effort comes mere weeks after longtime Gerawan Farming employee, Silvia Lopez, filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against ALRB board members and top staff, for their refusal to count the ballots from the November election.

Many in the farming community claim the ALRB and UFW have joined forces to boost the union by targeting one of the biggest non-union farming operations in the state. Should they succeed in unionizing Gerawan Farming employees, adding the 5,000 farmworkers would double union membership, and certainly boost the ALRB’s status.

This latest abusive overreach by the ALRB and its general counsel shows growing desperation in the trending anti-union sentiment in the private sector, and the vast agriculture industry of… Read More

Katy Grimes

Justice for Gerawan Farm Workers in the hands of Underhanded ALRB

One of the most significant labor relations fights in the country is currently taking place here in California. Proceedings have turned ugly, with many questioning the legal tactics and scruples of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

As the United Farm Workers labor union and the state Agricultural Labor Relations Boardhave found themselves on the brink of extinction and future irrelevance, they have joined forces to reverse their misfortune by targeting one of the biggest non-union farming operations in the state. Should they succeed in unionizing the 5,000 total Gerawan Farming employees, it would more than double union membership, and certainly boost the ALRB’s status.

The UFW won an election to represent Gerawan Farming’s workers 23 years ago. But after only one bargaining session, the union disappeared and wasn’t heard from for more than 20 years.

In October 2012, the union reappeared to impose a contract on Gerawan Farming and its employees — without a vote of the workers.

But the workers don’t want the union.

The wrangling with the United Farm Workers Union began again in October of… Read More

Katy Grimes

Gerawan Farming files constitutional challenge against ALRB

Gerawan Farming is fed up.

On Dec. 16, the Gerawan Farming company filed aconstitutional challengeagainst the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, with the United Farm Workers of America as a “Real Party of Interest.” It was filed with the California Court of Appeal, Fifth District in Fresno, against the ALRB’s invocation of theCalifornia’s Mandatory Mediation and Conciliation Statute. The statute wassigned into law by Gov. Gray Davis in 2002.

This was part of wrangling with the United Farm Workers Union that began in Oct. 2012, when the union insisted that a collective… Read More

Katy Grimes

ALRB Part ll: Background on ALRB Chair Shiroma

This series reports on the backgrounds of the board members and officials ofthe ALRB. Part 1 ishere.

The Agricultural Labor Relations Board is made up of five members, the board was created when the Agricultural Labor Relations Act was signed into law in June 1975 by Gov. Jerry Brown.

With two vacancies, the board currently hasthree members:

* Chairwoman Genevieve A. Shiroma, who has served on the board since 1999, was appointed by Gov.… Read More

Katy Grimes

Do union activists work for Gov. Brown, farm board?

SACRAMENTO — The revolving door among political consultants, community organizers and state government revolves right into the governor’s office and the Agriculture Labor Relations Board.

In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Martha Guzman-Aceves deputy legislative secretary for agriculture, environment and natural resources. Before that, she was a founding partner of Cultivo Consulting, which says it engages in lobbying, political campaigning and community organizing in California. It’s a lobbying and outreach firm specializing in social, economic and environmental justice.

She also was listed on 2011 tax returns (pictured nearby) as… Read More

Katy Grimes

Anti-UFW farm workers seek help from Gov. Jerry Brown

Roll over, Cesar Chavez, here comes Silvia Lopez.

Silvia Lopez is a quiet, thoughtful 15-year Gerawan Farming employee, and the de facto leader of thousands of Central Valley farm workers who have been protesting for nearly a year to oust the United Farm Workers union from the farming company.

Seven hundred Gerawan farm workers took a day off without pay and descended on Sacramento Wednesday to attend a meeting at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board. Then they walked to the State Capitol to meet Gov. Jerry Brown.

Six of the farm workers tried to ask Brown to intervene with the ALRB to allow them to vote on whether to keep or oust the UFW from Gerawan Farming. “Jerry Brown, we want an election at Gerawan Farming,” Lopez said, as she approached the governor’s office.

While waiting in the Capitol hallway outside, one of Brown’s employees poked her head out and asked, “Are you guys with… Read More

Katy Grimes

Farm workers fighting UFW unionization

The United Farm Workers labor union and the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board have found themselves on the brink of ruination and even irrelevance.

The labor union boasted 50,000 members by the end of the 1970s. But according to the UFW’s last Labor Organization Annual Report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor, as of Dec. 31, 2012 the union had only 4,443 members. So it has declined by more than 90 percent. By contrast, today the California Teachers Association lists 325,000 members.

In order to breathe new life into the union, many in the farming community claim the ALRB and UFW appear to have joined forces to reverse their misfortune by targeting one… Read More

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