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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

State Democrats kill High-Speed Rail accountability spending bill

SACRAMENTO — It is very discouraging that something so clear-cut like the High-Speed Rail Authority’s misspending practices are embraced by state Democrats.

Assembly Bill 1501, by Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, California High Speed Rail Funding Accountability Act, was killed in the Assembly Transportation Committee Monday, with the majority of Democrats voting in opposition.

Citizens for High-SpeedRead 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

Edward Ring

Forming a Bipartisan Consensus for Public Sector Union Reform

Across the United States there is an escalating political conflict over the role of labor unions in society. But it is inaccurate to characterize this conflict as one between Republicans and Democrats. There are members of both major political parties, as well as independents of widely diverse ideologies, who are concerned about civil liberties, the growth of authoritarian government, inadequate investment in infrastructure, and poorly funded social programs. Explaining to these diverse groups that public sector unions are a threat to civil liberties, impel authoritarian government, and preclude investment in infrastructure and social programs – and that by and large, private sector unions do not – is the key to successful public sector union reform.

While reformers who are immersed in the topic may consider this obvious, the fact that public sector unions are fundamentally different from private sector unions is still a relatively new concept to the general public. Some of these differences might be summarized as follows:

(1) Public unions elect their own bosses, private unions have minimal role in selecting their management.

(2) Unlike private… 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

Katy Grimes

Sacto arena bill signed, but it’s not over yet

I hate “I told ya so” moments.

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed SB 743, “easing environmental regulations for developments in California cities, including a new basketball arena in downtown Sacramento,” the Los Angeles Times said.

In March I predicted Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento would jam legislation through exempting the Sacramento Kings new arena plan from the restrictions of the California Environmental Quality Act, in order to meet a dubious deadline imposed by the NBA.

March 30, after Steinberg’s office told me he did not plan on authoring legislation to streamline or bypass the required environmental process for the proposed Sacramento NBA arena, I predicted they weren’t being straight with me.

Steinberg’s office denied any plan to do this. But the reason I wrote the story and asked about this was I knew this was the next step in scamming the public with the publicly subsidized arena.

The need to bypass California’s absurdly strict environmental guidelines and restrictions prevent most large scale projects from ever taking place without legislative intervention. And Sacramento officials shoved the… Read More

Katy Grimes

Parents fighting for kids; SEIU fighting for more money

SACRAMENTO — A modest rally at the Capitol this morning supporting a state audit of Child Protective Services competed with a humongous rally held by the SEIU.

On the South steps of the Capitol, the CPS audit rally was made up of parents and families who are victims of overly aggressive Child Protective Services divisions.

On the West steps of the Capitol, the SEIU rally was made up of thousands of purple t-shirt-wearing SEIU members demanding raises. Their t-shirts were made up for today’s rally and said “2013 CONTRACT TOUR.” The back of the t-shirt said “YOUR CONTRACT STARTS WITH YOU,” and listed the cities for the SEIU “Townhall Circuit” for 2013 contract negotiations.

Yet what should have overshadowed the small gathering of emotional parents, did not. Although, the contrast was stark.

It was mothers and fathers who said their children had been stolen from… Read More

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