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Katy Grimes

Part ll: Ag Labor Board Orders Employees’ Ballots Destroyed To Silences Farm Workers

Part ll of Ag Labor Board Orders Employees’ Ballots Destroyed To Silences Farm Workers. Part l is HERE


Friday April 15, 2016 the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board voted to set aside the November 5, 2013 decertification election petitioned by the farm employees at Gerawan Farming, and allow the ALRB to destroy the Gerawan employees’ ballots.

ALRB Administrative Law Judge Mark R. Soble, ordered the Gerawan workers ballots to de-certify the United Farm Workers union be destroyed.

Soble also ruled that controversial ALRB board member Genevieve Shiroma will not be removed from the ALRB despite her bias and long political and financial relationship with former UFW strike organizer and current UFW lobbyist Richie Ross.

Soble ignored Ross’s intertwining and conflicting roles, synonymous with the UFW and California Agricultural Labor Relations Board member Genevieve Shiroma, as well as Ross’s consulting business and allegiances to elected state lawmakers.

Gerawan farm worker Silvia Lopez filed a petition to disqualify ALRB member Genevieve Shiroma because of Shiroma’s close ties and financial arrangements with lobbyist Richie Ross, his help getting her elected to the Sacramento Municipal Utilities board, and for his lobbying of a ballot measure concerning SMUD – among many other issues. State law requires ALRB board members to be unbiased between employers and unions as the board advocates for farmworkers.

Shiroma’s bias is so overwhelming that a state lawmaker called for Shiroma to step down for “unethical behavior.” Shiroma’s dubious relationship with Ross has clearly tainted her decision-making while an ALRB member, and Lopez and many others want her disqualified.

But to ALRB administrative law Judge Soble, bias isn’t a problem. “Allegations concerning Member Shiroma’s prior professional relationships and political contacts are not sufficient to show personal bias requiring recusal,” Soble said in his rulinjg.

“In sum, neither the past political affiliations, contributions, or professional relationships identified by Petitioner [Lopez] nor the insinuations she draws from them constitute evidence of actual bias to mandate Member Shiroma’s recusal in this case,” Soble erroneously concluded… in the face of overwhelming evidence of an unlawful relationship.

Did Genevieve Shiroma, as one of only three ALRB members, vote on the issue of her own disqualification? Perhaps she was the tie breaker, voting in favor of herself for not having conflicts-of-interests with Richie Ross. Where else in America does a tainted public official get to vote on their own conflict-of-interest case?

Unions=Democratic Party

Unions have become the beneficiaries of regulatory favors by government – whether or not unions actually help the worker is a moot point today because years ago, unions stopped representing workers, and instead became big business, bent on protecting its own needs.

Unions force themselves on businesses not because unhappy workers are in need of  help, but because union thugs came-a-calling in search of more members needed to prop up the union Ponzi scheme.

According to Union Facts, fewer than 8 percent of workers today ever voted to certify a union. And even when there is an election, union rules always favor unions against employers, and against the workers in many cases.

Union support along with compulsory employee fees, are lifeblood to the Democratic Party. Without this, Democrats would not be able to count on the humongous campaign contributions they get from labor unions.

Yet legally, employees are allowed to object to the amount of their dues, and how their dues are spent. But case after case shows how the UFW deliberately withholds this information from workers.

ALRB Chairman William Gould

In a speech in January, ALRB Chairman William Gould recognized that union organizing in the fields is “moribund” and “has completely disappeared” and “diminished to the point of nonexistence!” He said that since he “been Chairman there has not been one single representation petition filed under a statute which requires certification through a petition in order for a union to be recognized!” Despite that obvious lack of worker interest to join the union, in his decision to destroy the Gerawan employees’ ballots, Chairman Gould claims to be unsure of worker sentiments.

April 1, Gould wrote a pro-union op ed, in which he identified as the ALRB Chairman, for the Stanford Law School publications and the Los Angeles Daily Journal titled “What’s next for unions after Friedrichs tie?” Gould openly supported the 4-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that forces non-union members to pay dues to unions, saying it upholds “the lawfulness of agency shop agreements which require non-member employees to pay dues to the union with represents them.”

Gould also wrote about the importance of agency fees for union political goals, as well as the health of the Democratic Party.

The ALRB chairman admitted to the Los Angeles Times in February that the ALRB might not be able to separate itself from UFW advocacy.

The Agricultural Labor Relations Board has spent $10.8 million to prevent Gerawan Farming Workers 2013 votes from being counted – more than $4,100 per vote to deny farmworkers their legal rights to be heard.

And now the ALRB has done what most knew it would do all along: that it would have the farmworkers’ ballots destroyed. The next step presumably will be to force a UFW contract on the workers and their employers.

ALRB Kangaroo Court

A kangaroo court is a judicial tribunal or assembly that blatantly disregards recognized standards of law or justice.

“It is important to remember that Soble is not a real judge,” PickJustice wrote. “He is a lawyer who was hired by political appointees of the governor and on the ALRB payroll. Looks like this issue may have to be settled by a real judge in a real court.”

“ALRB’s board-picked board sides with its hand-picked and paid-for ‘judge’ who decides Gerawan wrongfully influenced its employees to vote out the UFW,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno. “That’s like the fox who guards the henhouse agreeing with the henhouse executioners handpicked by the fox. This is what political, bureaucratic incest looks like.”

The real victims are the thousands of farm workers who like their jobs, and like working at Gerawan Farming, appreciative for the highest pay in the industry, and opportunities to advance based on their skill and work quality.

And rather than being forced into unions against their will, the workers will move forward to appeal this case, as will Gerawan Farming Inc., because they can’t work, and can’t run a business free from union and state government harassment.

Part lll next 

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