However, two ALRB officials – General Counsel Sylvia Torres Guillen, and Regional Director Silas Shawver – have been selectively reporting the situation to suit their own ends.
They have been trying to force the farm workers to abide by a contract with a union that the workers say failed to represent them – and would take a chunk of their pre-tax pay from their pockets every month.
Torres Guillen and Shawver want to force Gerawan farm laborers to pay more than $3.4 million a year to a union that the workers say does not represent their interests.
The ALRB lawyers are putting the special interests of organized labor ahead of the interests of the workers whom they are bound by law to protect. This is against the law.
- Torres Guillen and Shawver are violating state law by violating workers’ rights. The Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, supported by Cesar Chavez and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, states in its preamble, “It is hereby stated to be the policy of the State of California to encourage and protect the right of agricultural employees
- to full freedom of association, self organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing;
- to negotiate the terms and conditions of their employment, and
- to be free from the interference, restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”
- Torres Guillen and Shawver are violating state law by not being objective and impartial.
- Section 1145 of the ALRA law states that “All [ALRB] employees appointed by the board shall perform their duties in an objective and impartial manner without prejudiced toward any party subject to the jurisdiction of the board.”
- Section 1149 of ALRA states, “All employees appointed by the general counsel shall perform their duties in an objective and impartial manner without prejudice toward any party subject to the jurisdiction of the board.”
- Torres Guillen allegedly harassed and bullied ALRB legal staff who opposed her agenda to violate state law.
- In 2012, former ALRB legal staff publicly alleged that Torres Guillen took office intending to abuse her power, and then harassed, intimidated and bullied her subordinates who questioned the lawfulness of her agenda. Several either quit or were fired.
California Superior Court judge: ALRB is in ‘cahoots’ with organized labor
In a 2013 hearing with ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver, California Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Y. Hamilton, Jr., found the ALRB to be biased in favor of one side. Judge Hamilton told Shawver:
- He suspects the ALRB is in “cahoots” with organized labor.
- “the ALRB seems to be pre-deciding” a vote of farm workers seeking not to have a union represent them.
- “You have a responsibility, unlike an advocate for one side, to bring out all of the evidence, not just evidence that is supportive of the UFW.”
Federal judge: ALRB quashed farm workers’ election
A federal judge found in 2014 that the ALRB blocked a vote of farm workers on whether to decertify the UFW as their representative, and may have violated the workers’ Constitutional rights. The judge specifically referenced ALRB Regional Director Silas Shawver.
- Federal Judge Lawrence J. O’Neil stated, “Shawver blocked the election and dismissed the decertification petitions” that the worker presented to the ALRB for mediation.
- The judge found that sufficient evidence exists to allow the worker’s lawsuit against the ALRB to move forward on the grounds that the ALRB violated the farm workers’ First Amendment rights under the Constitution.
Torres Guillen makes misleading statements that reflect her lack of impartiality
The ALRB’s General Counsel, Sylvia Torres Guillen, makes important omissions in her statements to the Court that reflect her lack of objectivity and impartiality. For example, in her legal complaint against Gerawan Farming for example, Torres Guillen:
- Made no mention that the United Farm Workers (UFW) union abandoned Gerawan workers for more than 20 years.
- Never said that her ALRB staff requested – and received – unfettered access to speak privately to every farm worker to explain the workers’ right to chose, free of interference from the employer or anyone else.
- Never said that the ALRB spoke directly to more than 2,000 Gerawan workers.
- Ignored the fact that a majority of Gerawan farm workers filed petitions for the ALRB to provide for an election to decertify the United Farm Workers.
- Ignored the 800 Gerawan workers who presented sworn statements that they had voted freely and without employer pressure.