Newspaper editorial board stands with us: State shouldn’t help UFW pick our pockets

The recent California Supreme Court ruling “isn’t fair to anyone except union leaders who stand to collect 3 percent of the pay from workers who may not wish to be represented by the UFW at all. The last thing courts should do is pick the pockets of the people who pick the fruit.” That’s what the Orange County Register editors concluded in a rebuke of the state’s high court.

“The United Farm Workers union won a victory over Gerawan Farming, Inc., in the California Supreme Court on Monday, but whether the farm workers themselves are winners is another question,” the Orange County Register editorial board said.

The Register is one of the first newspapers in California to acknowledge openly that the UFW is not a true representative of farmworkers.

“The workers at Gerawan, one of the largest fruit farms in the United States with 12,000 acres in the Central Valley, voted in 1990 to certify the UFW as their bargaining agent, but no contract was agreed to. Decades elapsed,” the editors wrote in a lead editorial on November 30, and updated December 4.

“Then, in 2013, the UFW requested mediation. The ALRB approved the contract that a mediator eventually drew up. It set wages and working conditions, and it required the farm workers to pay 3 percent of their wages to the UFW as union dues.”

Of course, none of us workers were allowed to have any input at all.

“In November of 2013, a majority of Gerawan’s workers sought and obtained a new election to decertify the union, but the ballots were never counted,” the Register editors continued. “Amid charges that the company assisted in the signature gathering process, the ALRB nullified the balloting.”

 

The employer is taking the issue to the highest court in the land, standing up both for itself and for its employees.

“Gerawan is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the California decision, arguing that ‘coerced contracts’ are unconstitutional. The coercion extends to the farm workers, denied their right to vote on whether the UFW will be their bargaining agent. The company says only 1 percent of today’s workforce voted in the 1990 election. Litigation is ongoing over the ballots in the 2013 election the ALRB nullified,” the Register editorial said.

“The state court’s ruling isn’t fair to anyone except union leaders who stand to collect 3 percent of the pay from workers who may not wish to be represented by the UFW at all. The last thing courts should do is pick the pockets of the people who pick the fruit.”

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