LA Times report validates Pick Justice’s positions about UFW & ALRB

In an important article about the state government’s nullification of farmworkers’ votes, the Los Angeles Times validates many of Pick Justice’s positions over the past year.


The Times made a lot of observations in its April 19 story that reinforce some of its previous reporting and corroborate Pick Justice’s positions:

  • The UFW “was absent from Gerawan’s fields for more than 15 years.”
  • The campaign to decertify the UFW is “the largest labor action in many years.”
  • The ALRB “now finds itself spending more time on anti-union campaigns than on unionization efforts.”
  • The case exposed divisions within the ALRB, resulting in the sacking of ALRB general counsel Sylvia Torres-Guillen last summer.
  • The ALRB general counsel overstepped per bounds and abused her authority.
  • Governor Brown removed the ALRB general counsel “amid allegations of pro-UFW bias and questionable court filings.”

Here are some highlights from the April 19 article, with main points added in bold:

Today’s labor activism is against the UFW

  • The decertification campaign, begun in 2013, was the largest labor action in many years — an irony for the union founded by Cesar Chavez to achieve humane treatment of farm workers.
  • The labor board [ALRB], which was the hallmark of Gov. Jerry Brown’s first tenure in Sacramento more than 40 years ago, now finds itself spending more time on anti-union campaigns than on unionization efforts.”

LA Times finds that UFW ditched workers ‘for more than 15 years’

  • “UFW’s election was certified by the ag board in 1992, but the union and management could not reach a collective bargaining agreement over the next three years. The union shifted its tactics to Sacramento; it was absent from Gerawan’s fields for more than 15 years.”

ALRB is divided, and its general counsel abused her authority

  • The case also exposed rifts between the three-member board and its general counsel, Sylvia Torres Guillen, who was chided publicly by ALRB Chairman William B. Gould IV for misunderstanding her role in handling election-related labor complaints and taking litigation positions that conflicted with the board’s responsibilities.”
  • Brown quietly moved Torres Guillen out of that office last year and put her on his advisory staff, amid allegations of pro-UFW bias and questionable court filings.”
  • “‘I think the board ignored the facts, ignored the law and ignored the 20-year history of union abandonment’ of the workers, [Gerawan attorney David] Schwarz said.”

ALRB wants it both ways

The Times reported that the ALRB dismissed arguments “from both its general counsel and the UFW” that Gerawan Farming had instigated the union decertification efforts, and that it had hired labor organizer Silvia Lopez to run the campaign. Even so, the ALRB had to find Gerawan guilty of something.

According to the Times, “In its decision issued Friday, the ALRB rejected contentions from both its general counsel and the UFW that Gerawan instigated the UFW ouster and hired Lopez to run it. The board nonetheless found that the company ‘unlawfully inserted itself into the campaign.'”

LA Times gets the name of the judge wrong

The Los Angeles Times got the name of the ALRB judge wrong. The article referenced “administrative law Judge Thomas Sobel.” This is incorrect. the ALRB administrative judge who heard the case was Mark R. Soble.

It’s going to be a long fight

“It could be a long time before workers at the state’s largest tree-fruit processor get another chance to vote on whether the United Farm Workers can continue to represent them, after a state board nullified their 2013 election,” the Times reported in its lead paragraph.

The government decided April 15 to disenfranchise 2,600 Gerawan farmworkers who voted on whether to de-certify the UFW. It was clear that majority sentiment wanted nothing to do with the union, which had ignored them for 20 years, only to come back in 2012 and demand 3% of their pay or be fired.

  • “Owner Dan Gerawan and an attorney for the employee who started the decertification effort said they will ask the board to reconsider and will take the case to a state appeals court if necessary.”

Those workers may have to wait years more just to have the state observe their right to vote and be counted.