Posing as Gerawan Farming employees, a small group of other farm workers and United Farm Worker union posers protested a meeting of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board Wednesday. Gerawan workers sent out a press release making sure the public knows that the protestors at the Agricultural Labor Relations Board meeting in Sacramento Wednesday were not Gerawan employees. “Every time hundreds of us real Gerawan employees demonstrate, we see a very small group of UFW counter demonstrators, and most of them we don’t recognize,” said Silvia Lopez, a Gerawan employee for more than 16 years. Lopez is also the leader of the thousands of workers who are fighting to decertify the UFW at Gerawan.
Gerawan employees have staged a series of walkouts and protests against the UFW and ALRB. The last protest was July 9 at the Visalia office of the ALRB. Videos of that genuine protest can be seen at the links below:
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“There were far more employees of Gerawan at that protest against the UFW than at UFW’s phony Sacramento protest today, and all of us are real employees,” said Lopez.
What’s going on?
More than 20 years ago, the UFW abandoned the workers at Gerawan Farms. In late 2012, the union showed up again and demanded a new contract that will give the union 3 percent of each farm worker’s salary and the power to fire any employee who doesn’t comply. More than 3,000 Gerawan farm workers (the vast majority) signed a petition to hold a decertification election to remove the union. Despite strong protests from the union, an election was held on November 5, 2013. However, due to the UFW’s ongoing lies before the ALRB, the rights of the farm workers continue to be denied and the ballots have not been counted by the ALRB.
“For many years we have been paid the highest wages in the fruit business,” said Lopez. “That’s not a reason for UFW to think they have the right to force themselves on us. We earned those wages ourselves. UFW has done nothing for us and now are trying to take our choice away.”
Gerawan gives raises — again
As Gerawan Farming in Fresno, CA announced wage increases to its thousands of employees on Independence Day, the United Farm Workers union hilariously tried to take credit for the raise.
On the eve of the Independence Day, farm workers at Gerawan Farms received notice that their employer proposed a wage increase to $11.00 per hour.
The UFW crudely claimed responsibility for negotiating an $11 an hourly pay increase, plus a 10 percent increase for all other crew and cultural employees, effective July 1. for Gerawan workers. United Farm Workers National Vice President Armando Elenes tried to push Gerawan to increase the hourly base rate to $15 an hour plus an additional 15 percent increase for other crew and cultural workers.
Because more is never enough.
Just since 2012, California’s minimum wage has gone up three times, while Gerawan has raised wages seven times. The farming company has a longstanding reputation of paying workers above California’s minimum wage, and according to Gerawan employees, leads the industry in wages. In addition, the family farming company offers paid vacation, retirement bonuses, and pays for workers’ children to attend Catholic school.
Lopez and thousands of Gerawan workers have been fighting since October 2012 to petition the ALRB for a decertification vote. Lopez personally gathered thousands of the workers’ signatures, which the ALRB disqualified three times. Finally, under pressure, the ALRB allowed a decertification election to take place in November 2013. But the ALRB has kept the ballots locked up, refusing to count the votes, or publish the results of the election, claiming some nebulous interference by Gerawan management.