In a significant victory for a grower, the Agricultural Labor Relations Board (ALRB) issued a decision yesterday denying the UFW’s request that the ALRB certify the UFW as the exclusive bargaining representative of the employees of Corralitos Farms, LLC. The ALRB also dismissed all of the unfair labor charges related to the organizing campaign filed by the union and certified the results of the September 19, 2012, election at Corralitos Farms in Watsonville, where the UFW failed to win a majority of the votes.
The case represents the first attempt by the union to apply the bargaining order remedy under SB 126 which took effect on January 1, 2012. SB 126 amended California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA) to compel the ALRB to certify a union as the bargaining agent for employees if it finds employer misconduct during a union election that would affect the results of the election and render a slight chance for a new and fair election. However, because the ALRB decided to uphold the Administrative Law Judge’s finding that there was no employer misconduct that would have reasonably affected the outcome of the election, and thus no misconduct that would render slight the chances of a new and fair election, the ALRB denied the UFW’s request to certify the union pursuant to SB 126.
Particularly significant was the ALRB’s decision to uphold Administrative Law Judge Douglas Gallop’s finding that 15 of the UFW witnesses lied in their testimony when they said workers were threatened at company meetings with job loss if the union won the election. Judge Gallop also rejected the General Counsel’s and UFW’s claims that agricultural employees were acting as agents of the company when they publicly expressed their opposition to unionization.
The ALRB’s decision highlights an important lesson for agricultural employers who wish to remain union free: Union avoidance preparation and supervisor training are keys to avoiding substantiated charges of employer misconduct during a union organizing campaign.
For more information, contact WG’s Jason Resnick (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 949-885-2253.
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