judge says UFW VP “Elenes was lying”
“I reach the inescapable conclusion that Elenes was lying” during his testimony, ALRB Administrative Law Judge Mark R. Soble stated in his 192-page ruling. “As a result, for me, this seriously undermined the credibility of Elenes as to his other answers.” In that same ruling, Soble said that the 2013 ballots of Gerawan farmworkers to decertify the UFW should not be counted.
The UFW vice president, according to the judge, was “lying” to cover up the “smallness” of the UFW’s actual paid membership.
Elenes was a key witness in the case against Gerawan farmworkers and employers, and was close to the ALRB general counsel and her legal staff that brought the case against the farm and fought workers’ attempts to de-certify the UFW.
In his testimony to the ALRB, Elenes was untruthful about the UFW’s embarrassingly low membership during his tenure as union vice president. The real number is so low, Judge Soble noted, that the workforce of Gerawan Farming alone far outnumbers the paid members of the UFW. Soble’s statement reinforces Gerawan workers who say that the UFW was trying with its ALRB friends to force a contract on Gerawan laborers in order to more than double the size of the union overnight.
So what makes Armando Elenes such a liar in the eyes of the court?
“Armando Elenes has been a National Vice President for the UFW since 2008,” Soble stated, in a ruling punctuated with references to volumes of testimony. Elenes, of all people, should have known the size of the union’s paid membership.
Soble said that Elenes was “lying” to cover up the “smallness” of the UFW membership. In the judge’s words,
“Elenes has worked for the UFW from 1997 to 2003 and from 2006 to the present. In 2013, Elenes was also responsible for organizing new members and bringing them into the union, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. He noted that the UFW had re-requested negotiations with Gerawan on October 12, 2013.
“On cross-examination, Elenes indicated that he was unable to give an estimate as to the UFW’s dues-paying members in 2013. As a key leader of the UFW, who was tasked with bringing in new members, knowing how many dues-paying members that you have is the type of information you simply need to know.
“In this instance, the number of workers at Gerawan, and thus also the number of potential dues-paying members, is very large, in the multiple thousands. Most probably Elenes was concerned about conceding the smallness of existing UFW membership, especially in comparison to the number of Gerawan workers at stake.
“Thus, I reach the inescapable conclusion that Elenes was lying when he stated that he was unable to give an estimate as to the number of UFW dues-paying members. As a result, for me, this seriously undermined the credibility of Elenes as to his other answers.“