Incestuous UFW, ALRB relationship strips voting rights

ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen never intended for peones to have a choice

Sylvia Torres-Guillen anti-choiceThe Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) had silenced Gerawan farmworkers twice before but it could not stop them a third time when they appealed to Sacramento.

After collecting signatures from thousands of Gerawan farmworkers – for the second time – the vast majority finally forced the ALRB to give them their right to hold an up-or-down vote on the United Farm Workers (UFW) union.

UFW filed bogus claims to discredit farmworker ballots

But before the votes could be counted, the UFW filed bogus claims against Gerawan Farming and its employees.

UFW specifically targeted eight worker crews and challenged the legitimacy of their ballots.  The UFW ended up challenging around 800 ballots in total.  That means they challenged almost one-third of all of the votes cast.

The union challenged the ballot of every third worker who cast a vote that day.  Worse still, with the cover provided by the UFW’s extraordinary accusations, the ALRB was able to halt the count of the votes on the grounds of performing an investigation.

ALRB used ‘investigation’ as screen for not counting the ballots

By “investigation” the ALRB meant it would ignore the decertification vote altogether and lock up all of their ballots where they sit, uncounted, more than a year-and-a-half later. In early 2014, ALRB regional director Silas Shawver admitted he had no plans ever to count the ballots.

ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen knew that the vast majority of workers wanted to decertify the UFW, which is why the ALRB unanimously granted the workers’  request for an election in the first place.

Even so, Torres-Guillen continued taking Gerawan to court to impose a contract on the workers – a contract that wasn’t negotiated or even ratified by Gerawan farmworkers but was rather created by a state-appointed “arbitrator.” The workers weren’t even allowed to attend the sessions that determined their livelihoods.

After court defeat, Torres-Guillen seeks destruction of farmworker ballots

Realizing the workers’ voices needed to be heard, the courts refused to allow the general counsel to impose her UFW contract on us. Seeing that she could not impose a contract on us through the court system, Torres-Guillen now wants “the destruction of our ballots” through the ALRB so that the votes can never be counted. By that means, Torres-Guillen can force the UFW contract on the workers.

The workers say they knew what was in that contract before the decertification vote.  That contract is the reason they fought three battles against the ALRB to get their decertification vote in the first place.

State judge says ALRB and UFW are ‘in cahoots’

Why would the ALRB ignore their ballots and carry on like the decertification vote never happened?

The only possible explanation is because the ALRB, which a judge found to be “in cahoots” with the UFW, had already decided there would be a UFW contract, whether the workers wanted it or not.

When the decertification vote threatened their desire to impose a contract, the UFW stepped in with its outrageous 800-ballot challenge.

The ALRB already knew that the thousands of us in the majority wanted to decertify the union.  If it counted our votes, it would make the decertification official, and remove any chance for the ALRB to impose that contract for the UFW.

Instead of counting the ballots – or even investigating the UFW’s challenges – the ALRB just kept trying to force the contract on the workers.

The only possible explanation is that the ALRB had been working with the UFW from the start.

About Jesse Rojas

Farm worker rights activist and spokesman for Pick Justice and www.pickjustice.com

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