New ALRB executive secretary is from UFW activist camp

The ALRB lurched further than ever from its legally mandated neutrality today when it named a pro-UFW activist lawyer as its new executive secretary.

Santiago Avila-Gomez succeeds longtime ALRB executive secretary J. Antonio Barbosa effective today.

While Barbosa seemed like a fair and impartial man personally, we never knew of him taking a stand to keep ALRB “impartial” as the law requires. Still, he was of the ALRB old school where, at one time, the 99% of California farmworkers who were not UFW members could still expect somewhat fair treatment.

Enter Avila-Gomez. “For over ten years, Mr. Avila-Gomez worked at the California Rural Legal Assistance (“CRLA”) Foundation, a statewide non-profit legal aid organization,” the ALRB said in an announcement.

The CRLA works closely with the UFW – not just on legal aid issues for the poor, but to commemorate UFW events and echo the dying union’s old “Sí Se Puede” slogan.

CRLA Foundation spreads pro-UFW material on social media

Avila-Gomez’s former employer has a weak social media presence, but it’s still full of pro-UFW images and slogans.

The @CRLAFoundation’s Twitter feed carries UFW material like this:

  • Photo of CRLA Foundation staffer addressing reporters on César Chávez Day in front of a statue of Chávez.
  • Happy birthday wishes to UFW co-founder Dolores Huerta;
  • Pro-UFW articles from third publications;
  • “Another great editorial piece about @CesarChavez and how he changed the world”;
  • “6 things you should know about @CesarChavez”;
  • Infographic on Cesar Chavez “for you to share with students”;
  • Lots of #SiSePuede hashtags.

@CRLAFoundation’s feed does not contain features of identifiable non-UFW farmworkers, or causes that are critical of UFW.

Silas Shawver re-hired quietly from CRLA

CRLA employed UFW militant Silas Shawver, who had left ALRB under in 2015 after the firing of his boss, Sylvia Torres-Guillen. Shawver was secretly re-hired last year in the general counsel’s office. ALRB kept Shawver’s name off its public staff directory.

“While at the CRLA Foundation Mr. Avila-Gomez provided free legal counseling to low-income immigrant and migrant clients,” according to the ALRB statement.

Contact info

Will Santiago hide from farmworkers and journalists who ask the ALRB tough questions like Barbosa did? Find out by contacting him at, or by phone at 916-653-3741, extension 314.