Court says ALRB’s forcible mediation against workers is unconstitutional

ALRB's legal duo behind the attempt to force the UFW contract on the workers.

ALRB’s legal duo behind the attempt to force the UFW contract on the workers.

In a historic decision, a three-judge California appeals court struck down the section of state law that allows the ALRB to force UFW contracts on farmworkers.

That section of the law, the judges said, is unconstitutional.

The judges agreed with the employer, Gerawan Farming, that the ALRB should have allowed it to prove that the UFW had abandoned its thousands of members for years. “More fundamentally,” the judges ruled, “we agree with Gerawan’s constitutional arguments that the MMC [mandatory mediation and conciliation] statute violates equal protection principles and constitutes an improper delegation of legislative authority.”

Farmworker Silvia Lopez alleged as a plaintiff in the suite that the ALRB was violating her Constitutional right to freedom of association. The three judges agreed.

Established facts

The court established many facts, including the Gerawan employer’s and workers’ timeline about the UFW’s involvement.

According to the court decision, “On July 8, 1992, following a runoff election in 1990, UFW was certified as the exclusive bargaining representative for Gerawan’s agricultural employees. On July 21, 1992, UFW sent a letter to Gerawan requesting negotiations. On August 13, 1992, Gerawan accepted UFW’s request to begin bargaining and invited UFW to submit any proposals it wished to make. UFW did not send a proposal to Gerawan until November 22, 1994. In February 1995, the parties held one introductory negotiating session. After that, UFW did not contact Gerawan again until late 2012.”

The court found, “On October 12, 2012, UFW sent a letter reasserting its status as the certified bargaining representative for Gerawan’s agricultural employees and demanded that Gerawan engage in negotiations. Gerawan responded by letter dated November 2, 2012, expressing its willingness to bargain in good faith, but also raising a number of questions and concerns based on UFW’s lengthy absence from the scene. An explanation of UFW’s absence was requested, but UFW refused.”

Bottom line

The 58-page ruling explains the facts as the judges found them – facts that show that Gerawan Farming and  Silvia Lopez were truthful all along. The ruling also shows that ALRB’s general counsel (Sylvia Torres-Guillen) and its Visalia director (Silas Shawver) were in the wrong.

So the ALRB can no longer force the UFW contract on the farmworkers. Now we have to see whether ALRB Chairman William Gould will go along with Torres-Guillen’s and Shawver’s machinations to destroy the ballots the Gerawan workers cast in 2013, or whether he will allow the workers’ votes to be counted.


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