Court slaps $1.2 million judgment on UFW for cheating its employees

The UFW has cheated is own employees of their wages, and must pay them $885,000 in back pay, a Monterey County court has found.

With penalties added, the UFW will be out $1.2 million.

Reporting the judgment, the Los Angeles Times noted the irony. “The union founded on the principle of protecting wage abuses will have to shell out” the money because it abused its own workers, the Times reported.

The UFW fired the main plaintiff, Francisco Cerritos, because he tried to unionize the UFW workers.

UFW no longer represents the workers, ex-employee says

“It’s shameful that a union that says it protects the human rights of farmworkers has been violating the rights of its own employees,” Cerritos said in the article. “It’s a product of the new management of the UFW. They no longer represent the workers.”

Worker fired by UFW because he organized an employee union

While at the UFW, Cerritos founded La Union Es Para Todos (the union is for everyone), and the UFW terminated him.

According to the LA Times, “He was fired by the UFW, which cited several disciplinary actions, two weeks after UFW signed a collective bargaining agreement with the newly formed employee union in May 2013, according to court records.”

Court found UFW cheated its employees of meal periods and overtime

“The UFW regularly required Cerritos and 23 other organizers to work more than eight hours a day and 40 hours per week, did not provide paid meal periods after five hours of work and regularly issued pay stubs that did not specify the hours worked, the suit alleged,” and the court agreed, according to the Times.

The court ordered UFW to pay Cerritos and 23 other former workers nearly $885,000, plus another $235,000 in penalties.

The dying UFW has only $3.5 million in assets against $1.2 million in liabilities, meaning that its net worth is only $2.3 million. The court judgment would slash that in half, and that’s before ordering the UFW to pay the winners’ court costs.

UFW accuses its former workers of being tools of Big Ag

As expected, the UFW has accused its former employees of being funded by, or acting in the interests of, Big Agriculture.

UFW political director Giev Kashkooli cried that the court judgment is “unfair,” and said the former union workers are being funded by “outside agents.”

Kashkooli said the UFW will appeal the case, not on its merits of whether or not it cheated its employees, but on technical procedural issues because of the lawyers who helped the former workers sue the union.