The state Agricultural Labor Relations Board is “out of control,” whose “ballooning” budget and staff, is driven by a drive to force Gerawan farmworkers to join the United Farm Workers. That’s what a California state assemblyman and others tell the Fresno Bee in a front-page story about the ALRB’s bias toward the union.
Here are some of the highlights:
- Former ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen was the prime engine behind a 90% hike in the ALRB budget to go after Gerawan Farming and its farmworkers who sought to de-certify the UFW as their representative.
- ALRB staff nearly doubled from 33 when Torres-Guillen was appointed general counsel, to more than 63 today. “A good chunk of that is related to the UFW-Gerawan dispute,” the Bee reports.
- “When bureaucracies get out of control, their budgets explode, and I think we’re seeing that happen here,” says state Assemblymember Jim Patterson of Fresno.
“For several years in the mid- to late 2000s, the ALRB’s staffing hovered between 30 and 40 employees with a budget that never topped $6 million. But a 2013 surge in the number of unfair labor practice charges made by UFW against Gerawan and petitions from Gerawan workers for the decertification election prompted Torres-Guillén to ask for a significant increase in staff and budget to handle the growing caseload. In a March 2014 budget memo, Torres-Guillén sought to boost the budget by more than one-third, from just under $6 million to more than $8.1 million, adding four attorneys and one field examiner to the agency’s staff.”
- “This year, the agency asked for, and received, an additional 16% increase, boosting the total to almost $9.5 million — more than double what it was before Torres-Guillén was named as general counsel.”