UFW hides from media about how it messed up a law to repay workers

The United Farm Workers is avoiding news organizations because it pressured lawmakers to insert unconstitutional language in a law.

The law would have allowed employers to settle with workers for a staggering $200,000,000 in back wages, without paying penalties to the government, and protecting them from lawsuits.

Those penalties and lawsuits could have made some companies unable to pay the workers at all, so the law was important to everyone.

But the UFW pressured lawmakers to single out two companies it didn’t like. That made the law unconstitutional – and it could prevent all workers from getting paid what they are owed.

UFW is hiding from journalists

The publicity-hungry UFW loves to talk to reporters when claiming credit for itself. But now that it got caught ruining the chances of countless workers from getting paid, the UFW is hiding.

The Los Angeles Times and Fresno Bee report that the UFW was not “available” to comment on a law that carves out a major fruit producer whose workers voted to decertify the union.

This is very unusual for the publicity-hungry UFW, which wants to get in the news whenever it can.

UFW attorney Mario Martinez could not be reached for comment,” said the Los Angeles Times.

The union’s attorney, Mario Martinez, could not be reached for comment,” reported the Fresno Bee.

Hiding from public accountability

At issue is a recent federal court decision that found that the UFW-backed law, AB 1513, singled out Gerawan Farming and Fowler Packing in order to punish the companies – and to punish 2,400 Gerawan workers who voted to de-certify the UFW three years ago.

The law, which Governor Jerry Brown signed last year, relieves employers from being penalized and sued if they pay the workers what is owed to them. But the legislature specifically “carved” Gerawan and Fowler out of the law.

Both the Times and the Bee report that the singling out of those two companies – and by extension, their workers – was a political payoff to the UFW.

But the UFW wouldn’t comment.

Political payoff to UFW

The carve-outs would allow the UFW to continue lawsuits it had filed against Gerawan and Fowler, literally protecting the union to sue the employers while protecting all other employers from similar suits.

The carve-outs were “‘an act of retribution’ on behalf of the UFW,” attorney David Schwartz told the Times.

Former Assemblyman Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) defended the deal, including the carve-outs. According to the LA Times, “Williams justified the carve-outs aimed at placating labor interests, including the United Farm Workers Union, who might ‘blow up’ the deal because it would protect ‘bad actors.'”

The two companies “were carved out of the bill so it could gain support form the United Farm Workers union,” the Fresno Bee reports.

Federal judge calls law ‘bizarre’

The federal appeals court judge hearing the case, Paul J. Watford, said that Williams’ excuse of a political bargain with the UFW “doesn’t strike me as a rational reason” to exclude citizens from protections the law provides everybody else, according to the Times.

“These are bizarre carve-outs, I’ll grant you that; everyone looking at them will kind of scrunch up their face,” Watford said.