Pick Justice and its friends are winning the fight against government secrecy, crony capitalism, and the political and union establishment in Sacramento. The Los Angeles Times just gave fantastic coverage to the cause of workers’ rights and free speech in California’s rigged political and judicial system.
“Farmworkers win court battle over access to California labor boards proceedings,” the LA Times headlined on May 11.
“A farmworker and business owner can now air their case against the Agricultural Labor Relations Board” in an ordinary superior court, thanks to the unanimous decision of three judges in the Fifth Court of Appeal in Fresno, the Times reported.
This is the second time in a month that the Los Angeles Times has written a major article that validates what Pick Justice has been saying all along. The earlier article appeared April 19.
The lower Fresno County Superior Court had refused to hear farmworker Lupe Garcia’s case “because a state law limited its jurisdiction,” the Times reported May 11, citing the three-judge appellate panel.
That state law was written on purpose to make the ALRB as un-transparent as possible. The law was designed to prevent workers, employers, and journalists from observing compulsory “mandatory mediation and conciliation” (MMC) sessions designed to help the ALRB impose United Farm Workers contracts on farmworkers and their employers.
“That limit, part of a 2002 law governing mandatory mediation of collective bargaining agreements, is unconstitutional, the panel held,” the LA Times reported.
“The dispute arose from a prolonged struggle between workers at Gerawan Farming, in the eastern San Joaquin Valley, and the United Farm Workers union, which had been seeking a collective bargaining agreement covering about 3,000 fruit pickers — even as those workers had begun a campaign to oust the union,” according to the Times.
Lupe Garcia is a worker at Gerawan Farming. His co-workers voted in an ALRB-supervised balloting in 2013 on whether to de-certify the UFW as their representative. The UFW and ALRB opposed counting the ballots, and the ALRB has decided to destroy them so that their results will never be known.
In a remarkable show of solidarity between employer and employees, Dan Gerawan, President of Gerawan Farming, backed Lupe Garcia in the lawsuit.
They are: the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the First Amendment Coalition. Testifying at the April 20 hearing as a friend of the court was world-renowned First Amendment legal scholar Eugene Volokh of UCLA.
“The secret hearing policy is obviously unconstitutional and the ALRB should stop wasting taxpayer dollars defending it,” Gerawan Farming President Dan Gerawan told the Los Angeles Times on May 10.
The secretive ALRB, meanwhile, remained secretive. It refused to tell the Los Angeles Times anything for the story.
Pick Justice was at the Fresno Court of Appeal on April 20 during the hearing to ask that workers be allowed to observe MMC proceedings that determined their fate. The state of California told judges that workers should “never” be allowed to witness the meetings.