California Finally Surrenders; Certifies Employees’ Overwhelming Vote to Dump Union

More than five years ago, Gerawan employees who wanted to be union-free collected roughly 3,000 signatures from fellow employees to get UFW union bosses ousted from their workplaces. Later came the fight to get their votes counted. Credit: Pick Justice

Farmworkers Finally Allowed to Cast Off Union

After Five-Year Fight, Votes Against UFW Monopolists Are Counted

For six years, thousands of employees of Fresno, Calif.-based Gerawan Farming, the nation’s largest peach grower, tried to tell United Farm Workers (UFW) union bosses to go away.

And five years ago, Gerawan employees who want to be able to negotiate their employment conditions directly with the company, without UFW union-boss interference, overcame Big Labor threats and harassment to collect roughly 3,000 signatures from their fellow workers authorizing a decertification election.

Under the Golden State’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), even if the employer would gladly negotiate with union nonmembers on an individual basis, the only way employees can free themselves from an unwanted union monopoly-bargaining agent is collectively, through a ballot decertifying the union.

(Of course, federal labor laws and the vast majority of state labor laws are similarly pro-union monopoly.)

Bureaucrats Didn’t Want To Know About Workers’ Lopsided Vote Against UFW

Unfortunately, the ballots from Gerawan employees’ November 2013 decertification vote remained under seal and uncounted for years after they were cast.

Many of the California bureaucrats who regulate employee-employer relations in the farm sector, especially Democrat Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointees to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB), evidently see the ALRA as insufficiently biased in favor of compulsory unionism.

For years, Brown appointees like former ALRB General Counsel Sylvia-Torres Guillen concocted excuse after excuse to prevent the ballots from being counted.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Mary King observed:

“Jerry Brown’s UFW-‘friendly’ bureaucrats were obviously aware a majority of Gerawan employees had voted to send UFW kingpins packing. If they had believed otherwise, they wouldn’t have gone all-out to prevent a ballot count.”

Finally, in mid-September, shortly after the California Supreme Court rejected an ALRB request to reconsider an appellate court ruling that the ballots must be counted, the tally finally occurred.

Workers opposed continued UFW union rule by a more than five-to-one margin (1,098 to 197), even after the ALRB had at UFW operatives’ behest made a last-minute decision to refuse to count roughly 640 ballots challenged by UFW bosses.

“The vote was a major step forward for the farmworkers and Anthony Raimondo, a Fresno private attorney who has tirelessly assisted them free of charge,” said Ms. King.

“But the fact is, at first it was not clear if ALRB bureaucrats would cease ignoring workers’ overwhelming vote to be union-free even after the ballots had been counted.”

(National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney Jim Young represents Mr. Raimondo and some Gerawan employees with regard to related matters.)

Before the Count Occurred, Jerry Brown’s ALRB Tried to Get the Ballots Destroyed

Ms. King continued: “Right to Work supporters in California and nationwide should never forget that, in April 2016, the ALRB actually voted to authorize the destruction of Gerawan workers’ decertification ballots.

“Had a court order not ultimately stopped the ALRB from carrying out its plans, the vote count that finally occurred in September would have been impossible.

“In most Americans’ minds, destruction of electoral ballots is something perpetrated by authoritarian politicians in other countries, such as Nicolas Maduro, the acolyte of the late Hugo Chavez who now rules Venezuela.

“Sadly, Ms. Torres-Guillen and other ALRB lawyers have been so determined to prevent Gerawan employees from getting out from under UFW union control that they were fully ready to resort to appalling Chavista tactics to get their way.”

Shortly before this Newsletter edition went to press in early October, ALRB bureaucrats heeded, at last, the wishes of the vast majority of Gerawan farmworkers and decertified the UFW.

After six years, the ALRB has finally stopped supporting union-boss demands for monopoly-bargaining control over and forced-union-fee extractions from Gerawan employees.

“Right to Work Committee members across the country commend the efforts by Gerawan employees and Anthony Raimondo to prevent the ALRB decertification ballots from being ignored after they had finally been counted,” said Ms. King.

“Ultimately, of course, the Committee’s goal is to ensure no American employee anywhere is subject to union monopoly bargaining against his or her will.

(source: November-December 2018 National Right to Work Newsletter)