Bully the workers . . .

Contrary to its legal mandate that César Chávez supported, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) is bullying California farm workers.

  • ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres Guillen has tried to force a contract on farm workers, requiring them to pay 3 percent of their salary to a union or else lose their jobs;
  • ALRB lawyers engaged in a “lawless power grab” to usurp powers that the law did not allow them;
  • ALRB has blocked and delayed workers’ petitions and voting:
    • ALRB rejected workers’ petitions, alleging without proof that signatures were forged;
    • ALRB rejected workers’ petitions, alleging that they didn’t represent the majority;
    • ALRB rejected petitions from the majority of workers, alleging “irregularities” that had to be investigated;
    • ALRB then dragged its feet on investigating the “irregularities”;
    • ALRB ultimately supervised workers’ votes on whether to unionize, but won’t count the results;
  • ALRB wrote the workers’ contract without even consulting the workers;
  • ALRB prevented farm workers from attending public meetings regarding the new labor contract;
  • ALRB prevented farm workers from attending mediation meetings that were mandated by law;
  • ALRB attempted to silence the workers by delaying the release of findings so that the workers can’t respond;
  • ALRB became the target of 800 farm workers who protested in Visalia that the ALRB was acting like a “bully”;
  • ALRB paid $357,000 to Judge Mark Soble, who was accused in 2014 of bullying and intimidating workers.

Time and again, judges and others have come down against the ALRB for its bullying tactics:

  • In 2013, a California Superior Court judge told ALRB he suspected that it was in “cahoots” with the UFW, in violation of its legal mandate to be an impartial and objective in ensuring the workers’ right to vote whether or not they wanted to unionize.
  • In June 2014, a California Superior Court blocked the ALRB from trying to force a UFW contract on 3,000 field workers that would compel them to choose between forcibly paying a union or losing their jobs;
  • In July, 2014, a Federal judge OK’d a farm worker’s lawsuit against ALRB alleging violation of workers’ Constitutional rights;
  • The federal judge said that when the farm workers were able to vote to de-certify the UFW, the ALRB committed “en masse segregation of voters” to intimidate the workers.
  • The federal judge said that ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver deliberately “delayed completion of his investigation” of alleged fraud or unfair labor practices, in order to prevent the workers’ votes from being counted.
  • In September 2014, an Administrative Law Judge chastised ALRB General Counsel Sylvia Torres Guillen for dragging her feet on releasing findings, as if she was intentionally denying the workers the right to respond.

Former ALRB colleagues say Torres Guillen harassed them for opposing her agenda

bullyingALRB General Counsel Torres Guillen has a history of harassing those who oppose her agenda. After taking office to head the ALRB legal squad, Torres Guillen made a series of moves that prompted current and former General Counsel employees to make the following serious allegations in a June, 2012 blog post:

  • Torres Guillen and her supervising attorney, Alegria de la Cruz, “have abused their power to put their bias into action.”
  • “They have forced out longtime ALRB employees who won’t agree to their program,
    • threatened to fail one attorney on probation because she questioned their biased practices, and
    • “have flouted state law on civil service hiring to bring in attorneys who will kowtow to their mission:  Make the UFW happy at all costs so that Torres-Guillen can be confirmed and ultimately appointed to a judgeship.”
  • Torres Guillen “coerced the settlement of at least one meritorious complaint against the UFW for failing to represent one of its own members in a grievance (Cortez, a 2008 complaint), a complaint that her predecessor refused to dismiss despite lobbying by the UFW because it had merit.”
  • “Torres-Guillen currently has two whistleblower complaints pending against her with the State Auditor for extending job offers to attorneys who were not on any state civil service lists when she gave the offers.”
  • “She also has two age discrimination complaints pending against her, one with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the other with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, for telling longtime regional employees that Governor Brown sent her [to] ‘get rid of the old dead wood’ and ‘clean house.'”
  • Employees over the age of 40 with 20 or more years of experience, such as Regional Director Lawrence Alderete, attorneys Marvin Brenner and Eugene Cardenas, and field examiners Octavio Galarza and Rey Val Verde, resigned after being harassed with counseling memos and threatened with demotion, and she continues to threaten and harass longtime employees who don’t want to be biased but are too young to retire.

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