Even though the ALRB shows incestuous partiality toward the UFW, its administrative “judge,” Mark Soble, doesn’t think much of the union’s vice president, Armando Elenes.
Soble also noted the high stakes for the union in forcing Gerawan workers into an ALRB-imposed UFW contract.
The ALRB judge noted that the UFW was concerned that its “smallness” contrasted badly with the many thousands of workers at Gerawan. “Most probably Elenes was concerned about conceding the smallness of existing UFW membership, especially in comparison to the number of Gerawan workers at stake,” Soble said, when he accused Elenes of lying about not knowing the size of the union cadre.
This is a vital point, because it reinforces the Gerawan workers’ suspicions that the ALRB is trying to force them into a UFW contract in order to save the dying union. ALRB Chairman William B. Gould lamented in January that the UFW had “completely disappeared” from the fields, and that more workers were interested in breaking from the union than joining it.
Here is the full text of Soble’s assessment of Elenes, on pages 69-70 of the ALRB ruling to destroy the Gerawan farmworker ballots. The references in parentheses are Soble’s citations from recorded testimony. We have emphasized the most important parts in bold:
“Armando Elenes has been a National Vice President for the UFW since 2008. (24 RT 25:5-18 and 34 RT 26:11-15) Elenes has worked for the UFW from 1997 to 2003 and from 2006 to the present. (24 RT 25:5-13) In 2013, Elenes was also responsible for organizing new members and bringing them into the union, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. (24 RT 26:21-27:5) He noted that the UFW had re-requested negotiations with Gerawan on October 12, 2012. (24 RT 30:9-12) On cross-examination, Elenes indicated that he was unable to give an estimate as to the UFW’s number of dues-paying members in 2013. (30 RT 65:15-66:11) As a key leader of the UFW, who was tasked with bringing in new members, knowing how many dues-paying members that you have is the type of information you simply need to know. (30 RT 66:15-17) In this instance, the number of workers at Gerawan, and thus also the number of potential dues-paying members, is very large, in the multiple thousands. Most probably Elenes was concerned about conceding the smallness of existing UFW membership, especially in comparison to the number of Gerawan workers at stake. Thus, I reach the inescapable conclusion that Elenes was lying when he stated that he was unable to give an estimate as to the number of UFW dues-paying members. (30 RT 67:5-68:2) As a result, for me, this seriously undermined the credibility of Elenes as to his other answers.
“In late 2012 and 2013, Elenes was in charge of running the Gerawan organizing campaign. . . . I gave less weight to most of Elenes answers given my distrust of his earlier testimony regarding the number of dues-paying UFW members.”