It is against the law in California for an employer to request workers to express their grievances. And it’s against the law for an employer to give them a raise without government or union approval.
That’s what the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board says in a ruling to destroy the ballots of 2,600 Gerawan farmworkers who voted in 2013 on whether to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW) union.
According to the ALRB’s administrative law “judge” (ALJ) Mark R. Soble, listening to worker grievances and giving them raises is “unfair” and therefore against the law.
Here’s what the Board said in its 276-page ruling, issued late last Friday, with no public comment:
“The ALJ also found that Gerawan committed unfair labor practices by its enhanced efforts to directly solicit grievances and by making a well-timed unilateral wage increase.”
Again, on page 8: Gerawan “granted a wage increase during the decertification campaign and unlawfully solicited grievances.”
What a horribly unfair employer! Imagine – soliciting grievances from employees and giving them a raise! Unfair labor practices, indeed!
Apparently, if the government finds the timing of the wage increase to be politically inconvenient, the employer is breaking the law. When the California minimum wage was $9 an hour, Gerawan raised the minimum wage of its employees to $11 an hour – even when dues-paying UFW members at neighboring farms were still making the state minimum wage. The UFW and state government recently agreed to wait until 2018 before raising the minimum wage to $11 an hour. So Gerawan’s raise is objectionable, in the eyes of “judge” Soble on the ALRB.
Click here for the full text of ALRB’s ruling: Lupe Garcia Lawsuit 2016-04-15 Gerawan Farming Decision and Order 42 ALRB 1
Postscript: Readers of PickJustice.com will remember “judge” Soble as the one who fell asleep repeatedly while presiding over Gerawan farmworker hearings in 2014.