Four years and not counting: ALRB still denies us voting rights

This week marks four years since the State of California denied thousands of farmworkers the voting rights that they are guaranteed under the law.

It was this week in 2013 that the state Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) – after trying to prevent them from voting – finally supervised a vote among Gerawan farmworkers to de-certify the UFW as their organized labor representative.

The workers made a huge turnout to cast ballots to get rid of the UFW as their official representative, having heard nothing from the union for 20 years.

ALRB’s regional director in Visalia at the time, longtime UFW activist Silas Shawver, tried to prevent the workers from voting under the state Agricultural Labor Relations Act.

The Board, established under that same law, finally let the workers vote under its strict supervision on November 5.

But when it was clear that the Gerawan workers overwhelmingly opposed the UFW and wanted to get rid of it, the ALRB secured the ballots, locked them up in the Visalia ALRB office, and never counted them.

The ALRB has spent more than $10,000,000 taxpayer dollars to ensure that the votes would never be counted.

From this conflict sprang Pick Justice, a 21st century farmworker civil rights movement.

Shawver did such a good job using his post as a public servant to play favorites for the UFW that the ALRB promoted him to assistant general council. This year, Shawver threatened to sue us.

We aren’t giving up.