Pick Justice leader Silvia Lopez organized the San Joaquin Valley workers to the State Capitol and ask assembly members for support against the abusive state Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).
“ALRB member Isadore Hall threatened ‘to get’ us because we opposed him being the board,” Lopez said. “So we handed out flyers. They described what Hall said and did. He only supports UFW workers. He doesn’t support the other 99 percent of us. He is the face of ALRB’s corruption.”
Fear of Isadore Hall’s threat
Some workers are fearful of Hall, who is known for a violent temper.
“Mr. Hall called us names that I can’t even repeat,” said another farmworker. “Insulting names about us having sex with our mothers.” The farmworker asked not to be identified for fear of Hall’s revenge.
“Hall is a former senator. Governor Brown appointed him to the board. He [Hall] led a street protest against us to force us to give our money to the UFW,” Silvia said. “Now his in a powerful position to force us to do it, even though we voted not to.”
Hall threatened and intimidated witnesses the night before they readied to testify against him at his Senate confirmation hearing for the ALRB post. Such conduct is a crime in California.
Some lawmakers received the Pick Justice delegation – every member of which is a farmworker.
Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon wouldn’t see them. In the past, he has dismissed talk of Hall’s threats as “goofy conspiracy theories.”
Gave UFW a chance – don’t want it
The Pick Justice workers want the ALRB to count the votes they cast in 2013 to de-certify the UFW.
“We gave the UFW a chance to represent us, but they abandoned us for 20 years,” Silvia said. “So we voted to get rid of them almost four years ago. The ALRB supervised our vote but has refused to count our ballots. So we come up here to ask them to please count our votes.”
“It’s just like in Mexico. The corrupt government controls workers by forcing them to vote for a government-approved union,” she said. “The ALRB spent $10 million to not count our votes. We don’t accept that. This is America.”
UFW is dying and state government wants to ‘disappear us’
“We keep coming here to Sacramento to be heard,” Silvia said. “But it’s a political cartel. Some assembly people and senators are kind to us. They support us. But most want to give the UFW whatever it wants. It’s so that powerful people can steal our voices.”
Four years into their fight, the Pick Justice workers aren’t discouraged. “We are encouraged because the UFW is a dying union. Almost nobody wants to join. On some farms, workers are creating their own unions that they control themselves. On other farms, workers don’t need a union at all because the pay is good and we are treated good.”
But the state agency created to protect farmworkers doesn’t treat the workers well, Silvia said: “The ALRB just wants to disappear us.”
See more pictures of our July 19 visit to Sacramento on Instagram.