California’s organized farm worker movement is in such a state of collapse that the New York Times has started to pay attention.
The New York Times doesn’t blame the growers. In a remarkable article, it lays blame squarely on the United Farm Workers (UFW) union and its government protector, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB).
The former ALRB chief, in turn, blames undocumented workers, who don’t want to organize in unions.
To the obvious dismay of ALRB Chairman William Gould, who angrily resigned last month, farmworkers no longer see the ALRB and UFW to be useful to their well-being.
Gould’s resignation “highlights the extent to which organized labor among farmworkers has collapsed since the days of the pioneering labor leader Cesar Chavez,” according to the New York Times.
The ALRB and its founding legislation, Gould said, are “irrelevant to farmworkers.”
“He estimated that less than one percent of the agricultural work force is now represented by a union,” the Times reports.
That means that, according to the former chairman of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board, more than 99% of farmworkers do not belong to a union. Translation: The UFW, which claims to speak for all California farmworkers, really speaks for almost none of them.
In 3 years, ALRB received only 1 petition from workers to join union
“During the entire three years that I was chairman of the board there was only one petition for representation filed by a union in the state of California,” Gould said in his resignation letter.
Elsewhere, Gould complained that far more California farmworkers petitioned to get out of their unions.
Gould blames undocumented workers
“Mr. Gould says a major factor for the decline of organized farm labor is the fear that undocumented workers have of dealing with the government. Around half of the Californian agricultural work force is in the country illegally,” according to the Times.
“There is not only no incentive to complain but there is no incentive to become involved with government in any way,” said Gould, who developed a plan – never executed – to bring ALRB-UFW agents out into the fields to indoctrinate and organize the workers.
His goal, in essence, was to compel farmworkers to join unions, either through indoctrination or force.
In his resignation letter, Gould confirmed that he wanted to use the powers of the State to make ALRB the UFW’s enforcer against workers, and was angry that inefficient bureaucrats got in his way.
As ALRB chairman, Gould’s only legacy was to spend $10,000,000 in taxpayer dollars to suppress the ballots of 2,500 Gerawan farmworkers who voted in 2013 to de-certify the UFW.
Gould looked down on indigenous people, said they were too ignorant to read
Gould said part of his plan was to indoctrinate workers in their indigenous languages apart from Spanish. ALRB-UFW lawyers would go to the workers and show them government-produced videos in their native languages, because the workers were too ignorant to read. “These indigenous languages are something that only academics read. I don’t think that many of the farmers are academics,” Gould said at the time.