Higher court sides with farmworkers against ALRB secrecy

Farmworker Lupe Garcia just won a big win for all California farmworkers, as well as for journalists and for employers who treat their workers fairly. The victory came from a unanimous three-judge panel in Fresno on May 9. The Fifth Court of Appeal ruled that farmworkers have a right to challenge the ALRB’s secretive “mandatory meeting and conciliation” (MMC) practices. It reversed a lower trial court that had favored the ALRB, finding a state law to be unconstitutional. That was a…

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Photo gallery shows the spirited turnout at April 20 courthouse rally

The energetic turnout at the April 20 courthouse rally in Fresno was a real family gathering. Present and future farmworkers gathered to support transparency and ethical behavior in the troubled Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). They protested the ALRB’s secrecy, cronyism with the UFW, and corruption of the democratic process under California law. Some of the members of the three-judge appeals panel took note of our rally. Inside the courthouse, California deputy attorney general Nelson Richards, arguing for the ALRB…

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Workers “never” have a right to witness mediation, California says

California farmworkers have “never” had a “right” to witness the labor mediation processes that determine their wages and work conditions. That’s what a top lawyer for Governor Jerry Brown argued in court. Pick Justice held a spirited protest outside the courthouse. Agricultural labor mediation has been and should remain secret and behind closed doors, Deputy Attorney General Nelson Richards told a three-judge panel. “It has never been a right” for workers to sit in on the labor mediation meetings, and…

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ALRB says it’s “unfair” for Gerawan to solicit worker grievances and give them a raise

It is against the law in California for an employer to request workers to express their grievances. And it’s against the law for an employer to give them a raise without government or union approval. That’s what the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board says in a ruling to destroy the ballots of 2,600 Gerawan farmworkers who voted in 2013 on whether to decertify the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. According to the ALRB’s administrative law “judge” (ALJ) Mark R. Soble,…

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Ag attorneys may move to vacate Shiroma’s decisions on ALRB

Prominent California agricultural attorneys have told the ALRB that they may move to vacate any decision that disgraced Board member Genevieve Shiroma makes in cases concerning the United Farm Workers (UFW). “As legal practitioners before the Board, who represent cases that come before the Board, it has been recently brought to our attention that it has been nearly three months since Petitioner Silvia Lopez filed a petition to disqualify Member Shiroma from participating in any decisions relating to the above-referenced…

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Asleep on the job: Worker calls for ALRB’s snoozing Judge Soble to get the boot

ALRB’s administrative law judge is so inept that he falls asleep during hearings on which he renders judgments. A prominent San Joaquin Valley farmworker organizer has called for ALRB Judge Mark Soble to be disqualified because he uses hearings as times to take a catnap. Silvia Lopez has petitioned the ALRB to disqualify Soble from an upcoming hearing “because of his inability to stay awake during the six month trial that ended in March 2015.” At least 5 attorneys submitted…

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What ALRB could have done to help (with the $10 million it spent to fight us)

If the ALRB really wanted to help farmworkers, what could it have done with the $10.8 million it’s using to prevent our 2013 votes from being counted? Let’s take the farming community of Mecca, California, down in Riverside County. Instead of suppressing worker votes in the San Joaquin Valley, the ALRB could have spent the $10.8 million on any of the following in the Coachella Valley, around Mecca: Construction of more than 100 new homes (Approximate price of a construction of…

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Gould admits ALRB might not be able to separate its probes from union advocacy

Agricultural employers have a “legitimate concern” that the ALRB might not be able to “firewall” its investigations from its “education” of workers to accept union contracts, the ALRB’s own chairman admits. “I think that is a legitimate concern, and it’s something we want to make sure is addressed in the final rule” later this year, ALRB chief William B. Gould IV tells the Los Angeles Times. In January, Gould publicly acknowledged that during his two years as chairman of the…

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ALRB hit with big lawsuit for helping unions trespass on private property

The ALRB took another big hit today when the Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit in federal court to prevent the state agency from helping the UFW to trespass on private property and harass non-union workers. The PLF is representing Cedar Point Nursery in Dorris (Siskiyou County), and Fowler Packing Co. in Fresno. The agency, chaired by William B. Gould IV, “is violating the constitutional property rights of the state’s agricultural landowners by forcing them to allow union activists onto their…

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Massive 267-page brief outlines why Shiroma should be disqualified

Genevieve Shiroma should be disqualified from serving on the ALRB because of her long-standing financial and political connections to the UFW, a farmworker says in a massive 267-page brief. Through her attorney, farmworker Silvia Lopez says she “has been denied due process and a fair hearing in this matter due to prosecutorial misconduct, and faces a further violation of her statutory and Constitutional rights due if Member Shiroma is permitted to preside over this matter.” Lopez says that she and…

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Judge gives Gerawan access to ALRB whistleblower documents

A state judge has granted Gerawan Farming access to internal ALRB documents that a whistleblower exposed as part of a conspiracy to wage a legal offensive against the fruit grower. According to Ag Accent, an industry newsletter, “the documents involve a whistleblower in the agency who witnessed preparation of materials that falsely accused Gerawan of terminating a worker for advocating support for the union, and encouraging other workers to vote to accept the union.” After making a tentative decision in…

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Superior Court tells ALRB to hand over whistleblower documents to Gerawan

Handing the board yet another judicial bludgeoning, a Sacramento Superior Court told the ALRB to surrender some of its internal whistleblower documents to Gerawan Farming. The “tentative decision” opens up the possibility that the ALRB might be an unconstitutional entity. According to Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley: “Due process requires the internal separation of prosecutorial and advisory functions. It is a violation of the constitutional right to due process of law for an agency attorney acting as prosecutor to concurrently…

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Unconstitutional: CA news publishers back lawsuit to strike down ALRB closed-door practices

First Amendment advocates are urging a California court to strike down the ALRB’s unconstitutional closed-door practices. In a Fresno court filing today, the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the First Amendment Coalition asked the California Court of Appeal to strike down an order of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) that bars workers, the public, and the press from attending “on the record” hearings conducted as part of the Board’s compulsory…

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