Date: Mar 05, 2013
Category:

Sacramento, Calif. -- On March 1, Administrative Law Judge Douglas Gallop of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) issued his recommended decision dismissing all of the United Farm Workers of America’s election objections and the ALRB General Counsel’s Amended Complaint against Corralitos Farms, LLC. In addition, he recommended that the ALRB certify the results of the September 19 election at Corralitos Farms where the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) failed to win a majority of the votes.    
 
The ALRB conducted an election to determine whether the harvesting employees of Corralitos Farms, a strawberry grower based in Watsonville, Calif., wanted to be represented by the UFW. Of the 360 employees who voted, 187 cast their ballots for No Union, 154 voted for the UFW and 19 ballots were challenged.
 
Particularly significant in the decision was the finding that 15 of the UFW witnesses lied in their testimony when they said workers were threatened at company meetings, including the day before the election, with job loss if the union won the election. Judge Gallop also rejected the General Counsel and UFW’s claims that agricultural employees were acting as agents of the company when they publicly expressed their opposition to unionization.
 
Per the decision, the General Counsel and the UFW failed to prove their case and found that Corralitos Farms did not violate the law, the Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), said Ana Toledo, Attorney with the law firm Ottone Leach Olsen and Ray LLP, legal counsel to Corralitos Farms.  “The decision affirms the free and fair choice of Corralitos’ employees not to be represented by a union as expressed through the secret ballot election,” Toledo said. “The UFW’s apparent objective in this case was to force the employer to bargain with the UFW without it winning the election.”

This is authorized by a recent addition to the California Labor Code (§1156.3(f)) allowing such action when an employer is found to have engaged in conduct affecting the results of an election and rendering slight the chances of a new election reflecting the free and fair choice of the employees. The Board may only consider this remedy if the election is set aside, unlike the Corralitos case where the Administrative Law Judge recommended that the ALRB certify the election results and found no employer misconduct.” 
 
The UFW filed 17 objections to the conduct of the election, all of which were set for hearing. The UFW also filed three unfair labor practice charges with the ALRB, alleging that Corralitos Farms had unlawfully provided anti-union supporters with assistance and preferential access to the crews; interrogating a union supporter in the presence of his co-workers; and coerced its employees after the election into signing a petition denying that Corralitos had engaged in unlawful pre-election conduct. The ALRB’s General Counsel issued a complaint on those unfair labor practice charges that was consolidated for hearing with the UFW’s objections. 
 
The parties may file exceptions to the ALJ’s decision before the ALRB issues the final decision and order which is expected sometime in late April.

 

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