Court to take $2 million from workers’ paychecks to settle UFW judgment

UFW members on four California farms will have as much as $2 million taken from their paychecks to settle a court judgment against the UFW union.

The money is to be garnished from the 3% of wages that would ordinarily go to the UFW as dues. The dues are intended to support UFW collective bargaining activity on the workers’ behalf. Instead, the Los Angeles Times reports, the money is going to fund a $1.2 million court judgment against UFW employees who had been cheated of their overtime and breaks, plus lawyers’ fees that could top $2 million.

“Union dues from hundreds of farmworkers will be diverted to pay off a $1.2-million judgment against the United Farm Workers over the union’s treatment of its organizers,” reporter Geoffrey Mohan wrote in the September 12 story. “The cost, which will include unspecified attorney fees, is expected to rise above $2 million,” Mohan reported.

UFW cheated its own workers who wanted to start an employees’ union

The winning plaintiffs in the lawsuit said that the UFW cheated them – the UFW’s own employees – after one of them tried to start an employees’ union.

That union, called La Unión es Para Todos (The Union is for All), would have represented UFW employees and prevented them from UFW abuse. “The suit alleged that the UFW regularly required [plaintiff Francisco] 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,” Mohan reported in the Times.

Like Big Ag companies who are known to fire union organizers, the UFW claimed that Cerritos had been a disciplinary problem. The court disagreed.

The judgment included $885,000 in back pay and $235,000 in penalties and legal expenses, and will include reimbursement of substantial legal costs, expected to total $2 million.

But the UFW, with its shrunken membership and bloated overhead, doesn’t have $2 million. So the money is going to come from the garnishment of worker dues that would have gone to the union.

Money will be taken from workers’ dues at 4 farms

The Monterey Superior Court ordered that the funds be garnished from the compulsory dues withheld from UFW members at four farms, according to The Californian: