Whistleblower at ALRB becomes national news

The ALRB’s Isadore Hall fiasco has turned an obscure subject of the California agricultural industry into a national story about California crony corruption.

Among other things, it focused light on a 30-year ALRB employee who became a whistleblower to expose the board’s wrongdoing against farmworkers.

What had been confined to the Central Valley area and occasionally got attention in Sacramento and Los Angeles suddenly became a national story.

From New York, the financial news giant Forbes took note in a Matt Patterson column:

And now Pauline Alvarez, a long-time ALRB field examiner, has blown a whistle so loud that it has echoed across the Central Valley with gale-force winds. As reported by the Central Valley Observer:

“Allegations surfaced that…ALRB lawyers instructed…field staff to manufacture witnesses to support United Farm Workers efforts in labor disputes, suppressed ALRB field staff from informing farmworkers of their rights to seek legal action against the UFW for worker right’s violations, among other charges.
The initial allegations were levied in a still-pending retaliation lawsuit filed in 2015 by former ALRB field examiner and whistleblower Pauline Alvarez….Alvarez claimed that…the agency retaliated against staff after they protested the ‘filing an inaccurate and false declaration in order to obtain a temporary restraining order against Gerawan Farming in a dispute with that grower…”

Collusion between the Board and the union has long been suspected, but the allegations of Alvarez that the Board conspired to commit crimes to advance the UFW’s agenda has rocked the industry. Unfortunately, a sustained and full-throated pushback by growers looks unlikely, given how much the industry relies on the good graces of Brown and the legislature.

Isadore Hall shifted public discussion about ALRB

When the Isadore Hall scandal broke from San Joaquin Valley protests to Sacramento to the Los Angeles Times, the whole discussion shifted.

No longer was the issue merely about the ALRB failing to count the ballots of 2,400 Gerawan farmworkers who voted in 2013 to de-certify the UFW, or the ALRB’s $10,000,000 effort to quash the Latino workers’ votes.

The issue became one of corruption.

First, Assemblyman Jim Patterson said the FBI should investigate ALRB corruption.

Then, the Los Angeles Times editorial board – certainly no right-wingers against labor unions – deplored what it called the “shameful” appointment of Hall to the ALRB as an illustration of the “loathsome” cronyism in Sacramento, people stood up and took notice.

Then state Senator Andy Vidak demanded investigations into multiple eyewitness reports that Hall unleashed an “obscenity-laced tirade” to intimidate and threaten witnesses slated to testify against him before the Senate.

Something clicked. People who had stood on the sidelines became convinced that the ALRB, indeed, is a poster child for California’s crony corruption problem.