Judge Soble said ALRB & UFW colluded in ‘litigation strategy’

CollusionxThe ALRB’s own administrative judge has practically admitted that the procedures for solving union decertification cases is a sham.

Mark R. Soble, the ALRB administrative law judge who has spent nearly two years on the Gerawan Farming worker case, ripped into the ALRB in his September 17 ruling.

In a footnote on pages 163 and 164 of his ruling, Judge Soble stated that the ALRB and UFW colluded in the Gerawan case. In Soble’s words, “the record should make clear, should the General Counsel and UFW attempt to characterize their litigation strategy as completely independent, that portrayal would be inaccurate.”

Throughout months of hearings, Soble said, “ALRB regional attorneys and UFW counsel would often pass post-it notes back and forth to one another. Regional attorneys and UFW counsel would also sometimes huddle during short breaks in the testimony.”

Soble predictably said that the workers’ 2013 ballots to decertify the United Farm Workers should never be counted. However, he admitted that the entire ALRB process is fundamentally flawed.

Soble specifically referred to ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver, who left under a cloud this summer.

By law, the ALRB must be an “impartial” advocate of farmworkers, showing no bias for against either employers or unions.

In his 192-page ruling, Soble said that Shawver served as “lead prosecutor” and undermined the confidence of the workers. Soble added that “ALRB regional attorneys” and lawyers for the United Farm Workers (UFW) union appeared to be colluding in the ALRB’s legal actions against farmworkers.

Soble: “ALRB regional attorneys and UFW counsel” would pass notes and “huddle”

Below is the verbatim quote from Judge Soble’s decision (footnote 40 at the bottom of pages 163 and 164). The quote is broken into bulleted paragraphs for clarity, with some sections in bold for emphasis:

  • “I have serious reservations regarding a Regional Director serving as the General Counsel’s lead prosecutor in an election matter.
  • “Pursuant to ALRB Regulation section 20370, subdivision (c), a Regional Director may participate in an investigative hearing to the extent necessary to ensure that the evidentiary hearing is fully developed. In the case of a consolidated election case, the election objections and unfair labor practice allegations are often inextricably intertwined.
  • “By assuming the “hat” as the General Counsel’s lead prosecutor in a consolidated election case, the Regional Director may simultaneously become an unadulterated advocate for one side over the other as to the election objections, which then undermines the Regional Director’s ability to be persuasive as a potential percipient witness.
  • “I will further note that, throughout the hearing, ALRB regional attorneys and UFW counsel would often pass post-it notes back and forth to one another. Regional attorneys and UFW counsel would also sometimes huddle during short breaks in the testimony. I am certainly not suggesting that this collaboration is inherently inappropriate in all instances when you have a government prosecutor and a charging party.
  • “However, the record should make clear, should the General Counsel and UFW attempt to characterize their litigation strategy as completely independent, that portrayal would be inaccurate.”

Those were Judge Soble’s exact words. They confirm what PickJustice.com has been saying all along: That the UFW and ALRB General Counsel’s office are joined at the hip.

General Counsel Silvia Torres-Guillen, and her assistants Silas Shawver and Algeria de la Cruz have been moved out of the ALRB. But others, including UFW militant Jessica Arciniega, remain. And let’s not forget, also, that Judge Mark Soble is an employee of that same office.

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