Latino farmworkers who testified before a state administrative tribunal say they lied because they feared that California authorities would retaliate against them if they told the truth.
Judge Mark R. Soble of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) said in his September 17 ruling that the farmworkers admitted lying because they either didn’t trust the ALRB lawyers, or were afraid the ALRB would call the police or immigration authorities.
In his September 17 ruling – in which Soble denied the workers’ request that their 2013 ballots to de-certify the United Farm Workers be counted – the administrative judge recounted the witnesses’ fear of ALRB officials.
Below are excerpts from Soble’s 192-page ruling:
- “Eligio testified ‘Why would I tell him the truth if [ALRB Visalia Regional Director Silas Shawver] is not listening to us. It makes no sense for me to tell him the truth if he wasn’t going to pay attention to us, anyhow.’ Elegy also claimed that she was afraid that Shawver would call immigration on her.” (page 125)
- “Cornejo testified that she did not see any reason to tell the truth to ALRB Regional Office staff when Silas Shawver was just playing around with them.” (page 127)
- “Silvia states that her reason for lying was both to protect her son-in-law and because she did not trust Silas Shawver.” (page 142)
- “Silvia testified that, more than anything, she lied because she did not trust Shawver. Silvia also testified that she was afraid that Shawver would report her to the police or the company.” (page 143)
- “Gisela then told Silvia Lopez that she had lied to Silas Shawver. Gisela testified that she lied to Shawver because she and the other workers do not trust him.” (page 153)
- “Angel testified that next they decided to go to talk to the ALRB in Sacramento because they could not trust Silas Shawver.” (page 156)
By its founding statute, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, the ALRB must be an “impartial” advocate of workers, showing no bias for or against unions or employers. If the farmworkers felt they could not be truthful, out of distrust of ALRB officials or fear of retaliation, then the ALRB was not fulfilling its legal mandate.
After Governor Jerry Brown quietly forced ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen from her office in June, Visalia Regional Director Silas Shawver abruptly resigned.