ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres Guillen has twisted her authority and rigged the system to make “the UFW to be the winner in every election” among California farm workers.
In an op-ed for the Visalia Times-Delta, agricultural writer Don Curlee praises ALRB Chairman William B. Gould for recent steps to rein in the out-of-control general counsel (GC).
Without mentioning Torres Guillen by name, Curlee says that the present GC, “appointed two years ago” by Governor Jerry Brown, “demonstrated close ties with the UFW from the outset of her tenure.”
Curlee writes, “Agricultural organizations observed closely as the general counsel challenged employer and worker behavior during election episodes. She hastened the agency’s drift toward allowing arbitrators to decide election outcomes, taking decisions out of the hands of workers. A legislature that is largely union friendly failed to intercede. The governor’s defense of the law he championed 40 years ago was to appoint Gould as ALRB chairman.”
Here’s how Curlee describes how Torres Guillen’s office rigs worker elections in favor of the UFW: “In legal behavior that might best be described as nit-picking, the GC was positioning the UFW to be the winner in every election. Instead of counting ballots cast by workers, the election outcomes were being shunted to an arbitration board that automatically established the union as the workers’ representative by stating the terms of a contract between them and their employers.”
Torres Guillen, Curlee says, rigged the system to enrich the UFW by forcing workers to pay millions of dollars a year in dues that they vote not to pay.
In Curlee’s words, “It was designed to be a financial bonanza for the dues-collecting UFW. In the case involving workers at Gerawan Farming in Reedley, dues of three percent of the salaries of 5,000 or more workers were at stake.”
By fighting back, the Gerawan workers, as well as their employers, “attracted national attention and helped expose the tactics being used by the GC.”
And not a moment too soon. According to Curlee, the ALRB’s reputation is at stake: “That reputation has been strengthened by the courageous action of the board’s chairman — in the nick of time.”
Curlee’s piece also ran in the Porterville Recorder.