Federal judge OK’s farm worker suit against ALRB bullying

Federal District Judge O'Neill has OK'd a farm worker lawsuit against ALRB.

Federal District Judge O’Neill has OK’d a farm worker lawsuit against ALRB.

A federal judge has given the green light for beleaguered farm workers to sue the Agricultural Labor Relations Board to stop ALRB bullying.

U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill ruled in August that a suit led by Gerawan farm worker Silvia Lopez should proceed on First Amendment grounds. Lopez alleges that the ALRB is violating her Constitutional right to freedom of association.

Judge O’Neill sits on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

Lopez had filed suit against ALRB in February 2014, after ALRB impounded and refused to count the Gerawan farm workers’ ballots from an ALRB-supervised election on whether the workers should have union representation. ALRB tried but failed to squelch the worker’s lawsuit.

Worker ‘happy’ to face ALRB and Shawver at trial

“I am happy that I will get to face the members of the ALRB and regional director at a trial,” said Lopez, referring to ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver.

“My co-workers’ and my rights have been denied for more than 260 days,” she said. “It’s not right. I’m glad that the judge saw that I have a real case and will let part of my lawsuit move forward. All the farmworkers want is to have our votes counted. We will not stop fighting to have our voices heard and our rights protected.”

“Silvia and her co-workers have been fighting since last November to have their decertification votes counted. The ALRB regional staff and board have been repeatedly denying the farmworkers’ constitutional rights. We are pleased that the judge today ruled that our lawsuit can move forward,” said Paul Bauer, counsel to Silvia Lopez.

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