The United Farm Workers staged a fake strike at a Dorris, California, plant nursery, misrepresenting the hundreds of contract workers, making false statements about conditions, and violating state law.
The October 29 protest surprised the workers, who had not been notified in advance that the UFW would be there, speaking in their name, according to the Herald and News.
“We don’t need a union,” said employee Margarita Saucedo. “We are already united.”
On its Facebook page, the UFW claimed that “more than 150 nursery workers went out on strike” at the nursery. But Fahner said that no more than 50 people protested, and at least 10 weren’t even his employees.
The UFW did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.
UFW offered no proof of its allegations
During the “strike,” the UFW claimed it was leading the fight to improve conditions, saying that the nursery paid low wages and exposed workers to unsafe working conditions and sexual misconduct.
But the nursery owner, Mike Fahner, said the union’s claims had no basis, and that the UFW offered no evidence. “There’s no substance,” Fahner told the Herald and News. “No documentation, no police records.”
“We do absolutely everything we can think of to provide a comfortable, clean workplace,” Fahner said. The employer said he thinks that the UFW, whose membership is collapsing, is trying to “alarm” workers into joining. According to the Herald and News, Fahner pointed out that “UFW would be entitled to three percent of paid wages from union workers.”
The average piece-rate pay at the nursery is $17.50 an hour.
UFW broke the law with the fake strike
While the UFW might be permitted by law to encourage workers to unionize, and even stage a protest, “it failed to follow the required steps” for the October 29 event, according to the report.
The Herald and News cited a labor attorney as telling the paper that “a union is required to file a notice of intent to organize before interacting with workers, and a petition before attempting to strike. The UFW referred to Thursday’s demonstration as a strike.”
“They completely disregarded California law,” the attorney said.
The next day, the attorney filed an unfair labor practice against the UFW with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB). The ALRB has been under fire for a pattern of bias in favor of the union.
Low employee turnover, multi-generational family workers show satisfaction with employer
“They told us that we need changes here because we were treated badly,” a forklift operator told the Herald and News. “I have never seen any of that here.” The worker says the management communicates well with employees, and that he sees no need to unionize. “We’ve always had pretty good harmony here,” he said.
Another employee, Jesus Mendoza, said the “strike” was “just a big joke.” Having worked 15 seasons at the nursery, Mendoza said that the management shows a commitment to the employees, and vice-versa. “We haven’t had any problems out here,” Mendoza said. “We’re just focused on trying to do our jobs.”
Owner Fahner said that his nursery’s low employee turnover, with multiple generations of families coming to work for him year after year, shows that the workers are satisfied with labor conditions and practices.
“They’ve been coming back year after year because they make good money,” he said.