With whistleblower scandal brewing, ALRB throws Sylvia Torres-Guillen under the bus

The ALRB's ruling throws Sylvia Torres-Guillen under the bus. Looks like her future as a state judge is history.

The ALRB officially throws Sylvia Torres-Guillen under the bus. Looks like her future as a state judge is history.

While taking the UFW line to destroy the Gerawan farmworkers’ ballots, the ALRB drove a judicial stake through the heart of its disgraced ex-general counsel, Sylvia Torres-Guillen. In so doing, the ALRB cleared Gerawan of illegally instigating the anti-union activity. But that didn’t stop the Board from skewering the farmer and workers.

It appears to be a preemptive strike to soften the damage of an ongoing investigation of ALRB negligence, revealed last May when a whistleblower came forward. The whistleblower alleged illegal collusion between the UFW and the ALRB General Counsel’s office to discredit Gerawan and its workers.

Now the ALRB wants things both ways. In its decision to destroy the Gerawan workers’ case against the union, the Board skewered Torres-Guillen and her UFW activist legal team that was (mostly) removed last summer.

Referencing Soble by his title “administrative law judge” (ALJ), the Board stated, “The ALJ found that the record did not support a finding that Gerawan instigated the decertification record. The [ALRB] General Counsel and the UFW urge the Board to reverse the ALJ on this issue. For the reasons discussed below, we decline to overturn the ALJ, and uphold his finding that there is not sufficient evidence to support a finding of employer instigation.

The ruling contains an entire section, starting on page 11, that refutes the ALRB General Counsel-UFW position. The section is titled, “The Record Does Not Support a Finding that [labor organizer Silvia] Lopez was Hired for the Purpose of Leading the Decertification Effort.”

“The ALJ accepted that, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, it was Lopez’s own idea to become the decertification petitioner,” according to the ALRB report. “We find that the record does not contain direct evidence that Lopez was hired specifically to lead the decertification effort.”

The ALRB ruling also contains a section (p. 13) titled, “The Record Does Not Support the Conclusion that Gerawan Instigated the Decertification Campaign Through Lopez as its Agent.” The text says, “Nor do we find sufficient evidence in the record to conclude that, in leading the decertification effort, Lopez was acting pursuant to Gerawan’s specific direction or authorization.” It adds, “there is no direct testimony from workers who said that they believed Lopez’s actions were authorized by Gerawan.”

Additionally, the ALRB has a section titled, “The Record Does Not Support a Finding that Gerawan Instigated the Decertification Effort Through the Flyers and Mailers that Began in October 2012.” (Download the decision here: Lupe Garcia Lawsuit 2016-04-15 Gerawan Farming Decision and Order 42 ALRB 1)

Even though the ALRB now affirms formally that Gerawan Farming did not instigate the decertification effort, it proceeded to say that the employer provided “unlawful assistance” to support the decertification campaign. In that more concrete sense, the ALRB reverts back to a pro-UFW position.

That won’t be enough to protect the ALRB from the whistleblower’s revelations. Stay tuned.

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