Santiago Avila-Gomez succeeds longtime ALRB executive secretary J. Antonio Barbosa effective today.
While Barbosa seemed like a fair and impartial man personally, we never knew of him taking a stand to keep ALRB “impartial” as the law requires. Still, he was of the ALRB old school where, at one time, the 99% of California farmworkers who were not UFW members could still expect somewhat fair treatment.
Enter Avila-Gomez. “For over ten years, Mr. Avila-Gomez worked at the California Rural Legal Assistance (“CRLA”) Foundation, a statewide non-profit legal aid organization,” the ALRB said in an announcement.
The CRLA works closely with the UFW – not just on legal aid issues for the poor, but to commemorate UFW events and echo the dying union’s old “Sí Se Puede” slogan.
CRLA Foundation spreads pro-UFW material on social media
Avila-Gomez’s former employer has a weak social media presence, but it’s still full of pro-UFW images and slogans.
The @CRLAFoundation’s Twitter feed carries UFW material like this:
- Photo of CRLA Foundation staffer addressing reporters on César Chávez Day in front of a statue of Chávez.
- Happy birthday wishes to UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta;
- Pro-UFW articles from third publications;
- “Another great editorial piece about @CesarChavez and how he changed the world”;
- “6 things you should know about @CesarChavez”;
- Infographic on Cesar Chavez “for you to share with students”;
- Lots of #SiSePuede hashtags.
@CRLAFoundation’s feed does not contain features of identifiable non-UFW farmworkers, or causes that are critical of UFW.
Silas Shawver re-hired quietly from CRLA
CRLA employed UFW militant Silas Shawver, who had left ALRB under in 2015 after the firing of his boss, Sylvia Torres-Guillen. Shawver was secretly re-hired last year in the general counsel’s office. ALRB kept Shawver’s name off its public staff directory.
“While at the CRLA Foundation Mr. Avila-Gomez provided free legal counseling to low-income immigrant and migrant clients,” according to the ALRB statement.